Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Trend of All Trends Driving The Marketplace

Fifty years ago on July 18, 1969, Ted Kennedy and Chappaquiddick took over the focus of the media. 

Part of the focus was to report the news.  Part of the focus was to contain the facts.  

I had celebrated my 10th birthday in 1969.  

My dad was being promoted in the manufacturing of engines and electric parts.  My mom was pursuing a career in medicine.  

We still lived in a very defined suburb of Cleveland Ohio where Italians ran the politics and the Irish were not welcome.

I was just entering Junior High School and was in the midst of studying the shifting of the continental plates and magnetic polar shifts. 

My sister had just turned 2 years old.

I am a Baby Boomer.  My sister is a GenXer.  My parents, members of what is now termed the Mature Generation spoke about the influx of the Baby Boomers and how they were changing the dynamics of our neighborhood. 

Many of our relatives who had lived in the city were moving out to the suburbs where homes were new and lots were big enough for the playsets.

I remember shopping back then at Sears, Woolworth, JCPenny and Pic-n-Pay stores.  

We also shopped at local hardware stores, farmer’s markets and the milk was delivered to home based on orders my mom called in on the dial phones.

We also were drawn to a very cool place called Great Lakes Mall where stores were connected to one another and part of where you walked was actually undercover. 

I also remember sitting in front of a black and white television set and watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.

 “Peace, Love and Rock ‘n Roll” was in and toking was quickly overtaking the thrill of simply smoking.

Over the course of the next 10-15 years, the marketplace exploded. 

New brands were introduced and technology emerged in the form of personal computers and car phones.  Brands like Target and Kmart came to life. 

Cars gave way to station wagons that family used to go on vacations.  County fairs gave way to theme parks where rides and games were available more than just one week of the year.  

New roadways and Interstates were being expanded all over the U.S. and not just in the big cities of New York, Chicago and Philly.

The Republicans and the Democrats were at one another’s throats and presidential impeachment was the mainstay talk on Capitol Hill. 

Today… July 17, 2019… is nearly a carbon copy of 1969… something that you very rarely hear talked about in academic, business and media circles today.

Back then I remember watching the Jetsons and hearing folks talk about how soon we would be colonizing the moon, how computers would take over the tasks of the house and how cars would be self-driving.

One of the key questions I ask clients and fellow consultants just to see how much they are swayed by hype vs. anchored around reality is a simple one.

In first quarter of 2019, what percent of retail sales in the U.S. took place on the Internet?  “Retail” being department store, mom-and-pop stores, restaurants, car dealerships and grocery stores.  

About 80% of who I ask this question are totally living in the media-hype and tell me its at least 50% and as much as 80%. 

The answer is 10.2% … a percentage that remained unchanged from 4th quarter 2018. 

As much as technology has advanced over the past 50 years, the vast majority of future projections are getting revised as Washington takes on Google, FaceBook, Apple and Amazon and new state and city laws emerge putting constraints around the use of technology on the roadways and public spaces.

However, the focus of this blog is not about technology market drivers. 

Instead, there was one fundamental driver of what took place from 1969 through the mid-1980s that is happening all over again.

As Baby Boomers coupled and made babies they fueled the largest and most profound generational change on the planet earth.  What was driven by adolescence gave way to family cocooning. 

And that very same thing is happening right now in our midst with the even larger generation of Millennials produced by the Boomers. 

Pew Research Center recently published a news story about Millennials that was featured in the Wall Street Journal.  The New York Times published a news story about Baby Boomers in 1969. 

“Most educated ever,” “idealistic,” “technology,” “social justice,” “women employment,” “moving to the suburbs” and “higher incomes.”

Those phrases were used in both of the two articles... written 50 years from one another.   

Just as the Jetsons provided a channel of entertainment so too is the content about self-driving cars generated for SyFy and the news media today. 

Just as the predictions about the end of government and the crisis of leadership clogged the airwaves back then, so too is the same focus of talk radio, cable news networks and social media today.

In some cases, what was hot and hip then is coming back as hot and hip today… maybe in a slight alteration for format and packaging.

Joints were hip to toke on at concerts back then… today CBN mom & pop joints are popping up on street corners and websites. 

PTAs and tutorial programs then… PTAs and tutorial programs today.

Just as I remember my parents telling me to turn off the tube and get outside and explore back 50 years ago, I am telling clients today to turn off their iPhones and log out of Linkedin.

But then I go further… get out of the office and go walk the streets, grab a burger at a McDonalds, push a physical shopping cart at a Target or a Walmart and go take a walk down Main Street.

Go to a restaurant during its special Family Night Specials and grab a table next to a new Millennial family.  

Trust me… while so many of the media stories showcase the family all staring at their smartphones, you see… and hear… a different scene. 

Here are the brands introduced in 1969… Frosted Mini-Wheats, Wendy’s Restaurants, Hawaiian Tropic, Comfort Fabric Softener, Eukanuba, Tic Tac, Nerf Balls and Volvo GTS. 

Here are the “Top Innovating Consumer and Retail Brands” emerging in 2019… Abe’s Market, AquaFarm counter-top organic garden, Beyond Meat, UrgentRx Single Packs, Renault Duster SUV, Bisto Gravy Pots, Chobani Nut Butters and EVOL Foods.

What to watch for… Just as Woolworth back then left the scene and Target entered the stage, my prediction is to watch because a brand will appear soon to fill the gap left behind by Toys-R-Us. 

They say that history never repeats itself. 

Okay, but remember that the Boomers vow to change history.   

And in birthing the Millennials… they are!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The New Sanctity of the Nest

How many of you remember having a play-house, tree-house or fort growing up? 

I had both a play-house and a tree-house in which the tree-house was sometimes used also as a fort.  But… mine was the only such structure in the neighborhood with curtains and a desk. 

When Discovery Networks purchased HGTV and its sister networks DIY-TV and Great American Country, it inherited a lot of programming. 

EXPERIENCE has worked with Discovery Communications on a number of projects.  

Once when I was up at the headquarters in Silver Springs, I made mention that it had some cool programming through a combination of HGTV, Travel Channel and Food Network to do some interesting positioning strategy with Millennials as they matured.

Sure enough… Discovery Family was launched and has evolved into what it is today… a mainstay of the Millennial Home-Makers. 

I bet many have heard about the birthrate in the U.S. hitting a new low.

I believe that the news stories about the national birthrate broke just about the same time as I was posting the last blog… about three weeks ago.

God love the statistics folks.  They do serve a purpose. 

BUT… living only in the numbers and not following the connection of one set with another set with yet another set and looking at the relationship dynamics of a scenario can lead one quickly into a mis-read.

As the headlines quickly eclipsed... The birth-rate in the U.S. was declining because the Millennials are electing not to make babies. 

We’ve all hear the famed story of the Blind Indian Monks and their individual assessment of an elephant based on the body part each was touching. 

Not only are the news stories a mis-read, but what is taking place is 100% the opposite!

Millennials are focusing on house & home more now than ever in their past.  

They are coupling and… they are making babies. 

I’ve shared the stat before.  By the end of this calendar year, there will be 20 million new Americans age 0-4 … all thanks to the Millennials’ reproduction drivers.

There are some sources out there... and the mass media ignores them... that forecast the Alpha Generation created by the Millennials might even take the lead as the largest generational group ever in the U.S.

How can this be if the birth-rate is at a record-setting low?

It’s easy.  Just before a storm hits, it gets quiet.  The winds die down.  The temperature levels out. 

Just as the Millennials begin making babies, one of the smallest generations in U.S. history, the de-famed GenXers are passing into another life stage where they no longer make any new kids. 

The past eco-societal trend of single moms getting pregnant and bearing a lot of kids have radically faded.  Thanks in part to birth control, thanks in part to technology and thanks in part to economic progress. 

As these changes get intertwined, what the press sees on the surface is more of a mirage vs. reality.

What’s happening is even more pronounced that just an uptick in baby-making. 

What’s happening is a Mega-Trend that can be coined as “The New Sanctity of the Nest.”

If you follow the media and its coverage of housing trends in the U.S., you might have had to take a Dramamine to temper all the bouncing around. 

One report says housing sales are up; the next article reports down. 

Bottomline is simple. 

Millennials are investing in their nests – whether it’s a rental or first-time owned. 

Could be a hi-rise, a flat, a co-op, a loft, a cottage, a subdivision cookie cutter or mid-century-like rehab. 

Nights out at the local micro-brew as well as time in front of the mobile smartphone texting friends direct or in social forums are being replaced with cooking meals at home and hanging curtains. 

About a year ago, I wrote that Millennials had made a super discovery of how to get video streaming free with this wired devise picked up from Best Buy called an “antenna.”

Millennials are still shopping Target, but they are also jumping into their SUVs and heading over to the local Bed, Bath & Beyond, Cost Plus World Market, Crate & Barrel, IKEA, Pier 1, Home Goods and Pottery Barn. 

Yes… Yes… eBay, Amazon and Wayfair are still getting their hits and online orders, but the touch and feel is much more real and valued than the convenience of a click.

High Touch is beginning to take over the convenience of High Tech. 

The Sanctity of the Nest means more than just the structure and décor of the home.

Kitchens are hip and hot.  Food Network ratings are up.  And pre-packaged, pre-prepared dinner brands are struggling.

Great article in this morning’s WSJ that Campbell Soup is “beefed up for investment” with a post of 12% more in sales from a year earlier. 

God love the masters of Madison Avenue and Michigan Avenue.  God love the techies that are housed in the Silicon Valley of the West Coast.  They believe that digital, voice-command and aps are engraved in every future forecast until eternity. 

Unfortunately, as they dwell in their high-tech havens, they fail to see the rise in the farmers markets, cooking classes, made-from-scratch recipes and cookbooks – note I said cook-books not cooking aps. 

If you are reading this and intrigued, call me… its 404.245.9378 and ask for Mark. 

There’s some cool stats, cool one-on-one interviews, cool target groups, cool ideas… and even some cool, fresh-made, Dominos-sugared lemonade to share with you.

Bottomline… The New Sanctity of the Nest is just now coming to life. 

So put away the smart phone.  Quiet down the digital agency. Take a break from brainstorming the next ap.  

Instead put on a nice pair of Keds walking shoes and come with us as we sit-down in Living Rooms, separate Dining Rooms and even around pic-nic tables on backyard decks and talk about the hip new social medium with the Millennials called Home.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Corporate Obsession To Avoid

What I read this morning is alarming.

Corporate America is skating on the edge of prosperity and digging some very deep graves… or at least the CEOs running the corporations are skating on ice right now.

And it has nothing to do with China or Trump.

I was ready last night to dedicate this blog writing to some key insights I gleaned from some campouts in malls across the U.S., but upon reading this morning’s newspapers, I cannot help but shift the focus to something overtaking corporate board rooms. 

Here is the headline of one of the articles…

“Much of Corporate America is obsessed with NPS… a score that has developed a cult-like following.”

A Millennial digital marketing geek that heads up marketing for one our media clients brought the topic up back in 4th quarter 2018. 

He called me and said he wanted to get the research up and running by the first of the year.

As soon as he used the acronym, I knew we were going to have some spirited discussion.

Not that I am a statistical Phd, but there is no way that EXPERIENCE will ever, ever, ever implement this type of “research.”

There are friends I have in Atlanta, that regularly protest around the Emory Yerkes Primate Institute that conducts medical experiments on apes and monkeys.  They believe that the research violates basic animal rights.

NPS research violates fundamental business missions, Wall Street investments and global economics. 

The CEO of Delta airlines, an Atlanta-based corporation, is quoted in the article saying this… “Our score has averaged 50, up seven points over last year.  This is the reason we’ve sustained the best revenue premium in the industry.”

Now I am not an economic forecaster or accounting expert, but I doubt that the Delta Score is why Delta’s financials are positive. 

At least the CEO is a positive thinker with the perspective that the glass is half full.  Not that I am a naysayer, but just as much as the glass is half full, it’s equally half empty and that might be an area of improvement focus.

So what is this “NPS” that I am talking about?

The cult-followers refer to its acronym – NPS – that stands for Net Promoter Score.  The followers like to refer to is as a “customer satisfaction rating.”

It’s a “like-ability rating” survey question – one question – where customers rate their recent experience on a 1-10 rating scale. 

No further questions are asked.  Just one question. 

In the last week, I have received two NPS survey phone calls.  I even knew that one was forthcoming. 

When I purchased a Jeep Cherokee last week, the salesperson told me I was going to get a single question survey call to rate my experience in purchasing the Jeep. 

He went on to tell me that his sales commission was dependent upon the rating I gave.  He even told me that if I rated the experience any lower than a “10” his commission would be cut to a lower percentage.

The second call I got came in from Target. 

It came in within an hour after I purchased some groceries at a Target just down the street from my Atlanta home.  The refrigerated items had been unpacked, but the non-refrigerated items were still in bags on my kitchen counter when the call came in.

The question was identical to the call that came in from Jeep… “using a scale of 1-to-10 with 10 being excellent and 1 being poor, how would you rate the likeability (I am not making that up) of your most recent Target shopping experience?”

John Mulligan, Target’s COO is quoted in the article saying, “Our most recent net promoter score for Drive-Up is 88.  A crazy high number, the highest of any service we provide.  We expect to have this service rolled out to nearly 1,000 stores by the holiday season.”


One question delivering “a crazy high number” that is going to drive a service roll out to nearly 1,000 stores.

And I guess the COO has the CFO on the same bandwagon. 

The WSJ article goes on to note that “so many of the NPS surveys are sent to customers through Emails, web pop-ups and phone calls, it has become harder to secure a representative response rate.”

The article goes further with “its hard for investors to interpret the scores because companies often administer the surveys internally, get very low response rates, do not publish margins of error and elect to internally adjust the ‘scores’ against cultural bias.”


Corporate business leadership that is now making financial investment decisions driven by a single like-ability question are living in la-la-land.

The headline for the article is politically more correct than my commentary with “CEOs Embrace a Dubious Metric.”

The CEOs of Best Buy, American Express, Target, Delta Airlines, UnitedHealth, Google, Intuit and Citigroup are all noted as cult-followers in the article.

Am I a loyal Apple Mac user? 


I have three MacBook Pros and two iPhones.  I have used an Apple computer for more than 25 years now.

Do I “like” Apple and would I give them a “10?”

Absolutely NOT.  Maybe a “5” at best. 

MacBooks cost 5 times more than the corresponding PC.  Microsoft Office still cannot coordinate programs with Apple mechanics.  The staffing at the Apple stores are arrogant.  Apple just got slammed by the Supreme Court for hording the apps. 

Does my “like-ability” of Apple align with my likelihood to purchase another Apple product?


It’s a love-hate relationship that marriage counselors attempt to correct.

Did I give the Jeep salesperson a “10.”


Am I in a brand love affair with the new Jeep. 


It’s nice, but there are a lot of Jeep components built into the dash and the power limitations of the engine that I do not find very like-able.

LOL… Did the one question ask me to rate the product experience itself? 


We work with a retail client that owns multiple store brands.  I did the mall campouts for this client that I will write about in the next blog post.

The head of consumer insights is a good guy.  But when I asked him how often he gets out in the field and visits the stores and has conversation with customers, he told me in his 11 months on board, he has yet to get out into the field.

CEOs that build their brand kingdoms around comfort and internal mission statements are not likely to be long standing.

If you are just now hitting the EXPERIENCE website and reading this… or you clicked on the Blog link in our Email signature and reading this… and you have concluded that EXPERIENCE is a crazy group of non-MBA, corporate culture, brand endorsers and believe we are not going to generate much return on your investment…

Email me and I will send you the names of some of the firms quoted in the Wall Street Journal article that actually are advocates of the NPS research.  I will also send you the names and contact information for some do-as-the-client-says ad agencies that you will find reinforce your defined brand promotional needs.

If you read this and observe quickly that the brands who are integrating this type of research that is generating “crazy high numbers” are struggling with market maturity and limited growth and you desire to avoid a similar brand situation, call us.

My goal is not to make this blog… nor our client relationships “like-able.” 

My goal is to drive brand growth and bottom line return… to craft brand experiences that customers emotionally desire to seek out beyond rational thought… even when they don’t necessarily fully like the brand!


Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Explosion of High Touch To Counter Balance High Tech

First there was a story in the British publication, House & Home that featured a Paris pied-a-terre. 

The designer talked about how it was fashioned to express the French love of style and culture.   How the owner was passionate about having “a mix of soothing colours” and “bold statements of personality.”

The owner was barely 30 years old.  He made his zillions in “technology integration.” 

The designer notes that owner was a bit of a geek, but valued the richness of French Culture even spending two years studying Parisian literature written during the French Revolution.

Right now I am sitting in a coffee house in Atlanta that is located right in the middle of a Millennial lifestyle group called “Young Digerati.”

The Claritas PRIZM cluster, "Young Digerati" is described as “affluent, highly-educated and digitally-connected.”  

Its description goes on the say Young Digerati folk are into yoga clubs, clothing boutiques, local antiques and flea markets, home décor, juice bars, coffee houses and microbrews.

No question that the tech-heads have their own unique set of social skills. 

They are drawn to the indie coffee houses.  They purchase the organic, politically correct and local coffee blends.  They have the cream foam crafted to look like flowers or birds.  They sip their coffee in groups. 

But once seated, instead of talking with one another, as a communal group they interact with one another plus their other friends on social media.

High Tech… High Touch… even when they leave home for the office…

A front-page story on this morning’s Wall Street Journal is titled, “Restrooms Get a Makeover.” 

The article is all about how office restrooms are transforming quickly into “centers of retreat” complete with areas to relax, listen to music, watch nature videos and converse. 

There is a picture that features a women’s restroom in a WeWorks co-working space.  A spokesperson from WeWorks describes how staff now takes possible co-workers into the restrooms after showing them the high-tech conference rooms.

And… the restrooms are now what sells the co-workers on making WeWorks there offie destination.

Airbnb is featured in the WSJ article with its installation of forest-themed restrooms with tree stumps and the sounds of crickets chirping at its San Francisco headquarters.

In Airbnb’s Portland office, the men’s room is retro-videogame themed with stations where guys can play Pac-Man and Mario Bros. arcade game.

The West Coast is high-tech haven and just a tad… a tad… out there. 

The article also notes a Raleigh North Carolina marketing firm using more than 20,000 pennies to create custom tile for the restroom floors.  All the coins have been installed heads-up except for one. 

Apparently, new employees are given a bonus if they can find the one coin that is not heads-up. My bet is that the new employees might not be that time-efficient in actually doing the work they were hired to do. 

There was an article earlier this week about how the grocery stores are dashing quickly into the digital order online and drive-up to get the orders.

Article after article… stat after stat… shows that few of the programs are actually netting dollars in the red and most of the retailers doing it are not just losing money, but are losing a lot of money. 

Ace is the place with the helpful hardware man.  

Ace is also the place that draws in the techie Millennials because they can interact with a human being that cares vs. going to a Big Box home store with self-checkout lanes only.

Every day I hear more and more and more and more and… about digital, digital, digital, digital. 

Just as the press has it engrained in their headsets that Trump will not last through his first four years, the press has it equally engrained in their headsets that the Jetsons world of automatic cars and self-cooking kitchens is going to be reality in the next few years. 

Unfortunately seeing the world through Manhattan, DC and the West Coast does not provide the most accurate portrayal of not just American society, but the techies too!

There are brands that do get it.

Maybe first in line is Apple. Check out the TV ad running right now about Apple Security.

As much as Airbnb has gone a bit overload on the design of their restrooms, if you have not used Airbnb for travel bookings lately, take a look at the website.  It is way more High Touch than you might think. 

I used to own a MINI back 10 years ago.  Not like I am a High Tech genius, but I do interact a lot with digital literally… with stats and numbers.  

I purchased the MINI because it was hip and cool. I have yet to see a MINI ad that promotes its High Tech equipment... but whether I am in Atlanta or San Fran or Austin or LA, I see a lot of the techie geeks driving MINIs.

My fun car today is a 2003 VW Beetle convertible.  Other than power windows, there is no digital anything on that “fun car.” 

I write these blog-posts NOT to have answers… but more so to stimulate thinking and cause brand leadership to ponder as their models of assurance are disrupted. 

I will end this post with a line I have myself saying over and over and over again to our partners and clients. 

The Millennials are literally driving the marketplace right now as they couple, purchase their nests and begin birthing kids. 

Will we experience a repeat of the same market dynamics of the 70s and 80s and Boomers did the same thing?  Nope.

Will we witness a shift of everything to high tech and digital embodied in everything from app-only banking to self-driving cars to online purchases with drone delivery to face-time and texting replacing true face-to-face?  Absolutely not. 

I may not have all the answers of what will unfold, but I will place $100 bet that human in-person interaction, expressions of creativity and the arts, personalization of design and style, customization of products further made-by-hand and good home-cooked food made from scratch is going to explode!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

The 2019 State of the Retail Union Address

Well the numbers for March have been released and the number of the day is 0.2%.  Yup, a dip of 0.2% in February from a gain of 0.7% in January. 

Wow.  Be still my heart.

The headline for the news release is “Improved Retail Sales Can’t Lift Malls.”  And the 0.2% is the number driving the Wall Street News story. 

Fascinating how statistical variance – however small it might be – drives perception among the masses, the non-statistical public at-large in which the press dwells among.

I have shared in Blog writings before just how much of the consumer and even business community is off in perceptions of the Internet, web-retail world. 

The question: How much did the Internet account for retail sales closures in the past quarter of the year?

The average answers i get among folks on-the-street to folks in top management and board rooms run in the 50%-80% range. 

The most recent numbers released from the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics and U.S. Census Bureau on March 13, 2019 at 10:00am EDT is 9.7%. 

And it is up... 2.0% from the previous quarter in volume which translates out to about 0.02 percentage points.  


Journey with me for a moment into the generational groups and their respective numbers.

In 2019, the leading edge of Millennials turns 40 years old.  The trailing edge of Millennials turns 25 years old. 

The size of each age group from age 5-25 is smaller size than the Millennial Generation as it moved through the same age groups. 

In 2019, the leading edge of the Alpha Generation turns 4 years old.  And the Alpha Generation grows more and more and more in size – which in 2019 is expected to hit 20 million – each year for the next dozen or so years. 

The Boomers are now turning 73 years old this year with the trailing edge hitting the double-digit thrill of age 55. 

As Boomers evolve into empty-nesters, they begin the process of shedding everything from clothes in the closets to furniture no longer needed to even china and dishes that do nothing more than gather dust. 

So there are some major forces of change taking place right in front of us.  Changes way more statistically significant than a monthly change of 0.2%.  

According to the Wall Street Journal story, retail malls “are finding themselves in a very cloudy, confusing state.” 

The story talks about retailers closing stores in the malls.  

So far this year, they cite more than 5,000 stores closing down.  And they cite brands like Payless Shoes and Gymboree and Charlotte Russe. 

Not too sure that those brands are currently re-positioning strategically for 2020.  

And I would be willing to put a $100 bet on the table that regardless if their locations are in a mall, strip center or stand alone, the stores overall are performing below par.

BUT… according to the WSJ, those store closings represents yet another indicator that retail malls are doomed and digital will soon replace the retail world we have long known.

Thus far in the 2019 calendar year, about 40% of our time at EXPERIENCE has been focused around the retail marketplace with a number of retail brands involved in clothing to house & home. 

And here is what we have universally found to be happening right now. 

(1)  The retail marketplace is at a critical junction point of change and opportunity… and it is NOT the transition of physical shopping to digital shopping. 

(2)  Retailers closing down stores and/or filing Chapter 11 are driven more because either they target market groups that no longer exist or they are anchored by locations in neighborhoods that transitioned and changed.

(3)  Price discounting has chiseled down brand equity to the point where today many brands are throwing as much crap against the wall to see what sticks. 

(4)  Digital shopping is NOT replacing instore, onsite shopping, but instead is adding another storefront to the retail brand experience. 

The critical junction point of change is actually so simple and such a BGO – Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious – that many run from the bright glare in dis-belief. 

Here it is.

The Millennials are in lifestage transition and a transitional change that is in many ways a retail tsunami of opportunity, growth and expansion. 

The Millennials are now building their nests, purchasing homes and birthing kids.  It’s that simple. 

And unless business leadership has become so addicted to Excel in doing their math, future opportunity is busting down the door.

So is O.2% a number worth a WSJ headline story? 

No. But then again, journalism in America is going through a generational life change right now too.

If you are a retailer reading this, call us and we will tell you more.

If you are a politician, a financial firm, a healthcare firm, an entertainment brand, a CPG brand… call us too. 

And always remember, the Millennials fostered the whole trendscape of “helicopter parents” and while the parents have since transitioned to empty-nesters, the need-gap remains. 

When you call us, we will tell you more about how you and your brand can fill that “helicopter niche.”

My Email is  and my phone number is 404-245-9378.  As a Baby Boomer, I prefer to actually speak in person than just in text. 

Monday, March 4, 2019

Beyond The Confines of Conventional Perception

Creativity gets itself cemented into a belief that the wackier, more tech-engineered and more animated the idea, the more authentic and opportune the venture that it generates.

As I have written in this blog already this year, television ad spots are a great case in point.

Millennials have now taken over the day-to-day workforce of the ad agencies.  Ad agencies have now become addicted to “off-the-wall” ad formats. These naive newbies perceive scripting the TV ads as scripting a mini-video series.  

I purposely did not post a blog right after the Super Bowl.  I avoided voicing then, as many others did via the mass media, the ads that ran were horrific. 

Since then, like a virus, the ad agencies have generated follow-ups that appear in a pre-packaged format that continues the next chapter of the initial ads. 

I am an advocate of brand consistency.  I abhor the continuation of idiocy. 

Several great cases in point.

I am sure that the production teams producing the insurance ads for brands like Geico, Progressive and Farmers tell their friends about how they are cooking up the next star character episodes.  I would a $100 down on the table that the same productions teams could not describe the insurance products sold by each client.

The revolving new venture capital Dot-Com start-ups are running ads where there is limited conveyance of what the heck the website or app even does.  The site hit rate might increase the 10-15 minutes after the ads run, but I would hate to see those digital financial returns.

And the Chevy ads featuring the past focus group moderator that now freely and directly biases and sways the opinion voiced of the ignorant representatives of middle America is not that much more of a media-investment redline as the Toyota ads that at least paint a slightly better IQ level of its ad participants.

Okay, enough about the ad agencies.

There’s a great story buried in today’s Wall Street Journal about Amazon… and the article never mentions New York!

Instead, it talks about how Amazon is exploring the dis-assembly of health insurance and how to re-engineer health insurance to more efficiently operate.

Taking conventional products like health insurance and reconfiguring the models might… just might… lead to a totally new product model.  Is the process an easy one?  No.  It causes a lot of discomfort and sleepless nights.  And that is GOOD.

Amazon also announced that they are launching a new grocery store chain with the first stores opening up in evolving neighborhoods in LA, Austin, Washington and Seattle. 

Are they opening up in the urban, historic-Millennial past-trendy neighborhoods?  

No.  They are opening up where the Millennial families are moving to and purchasing their first homes. 

I was in both Kroger and Publix stores over this past weekend and felt that I had landed in a brand environment that was scraping to survive.  

While a majority of the new, online order prime parking spots were empty, staff inside the stores where pushing large warehouse carts up and down the aisles to grab items to fill bags for those who ordered their weekly grocery supply online.

Can’t wait to see the new Amazon grocery stores.  My bet is that there will be a very clear, defined point of difference from the retail store-warehouse hodge-podge into which the soon post-mortem brands evolve.

Apple announced an internal team shake-down.  AT&T is re-engineering Warner Bros. and Turner Entertainment and past top leadership has been replaced.

And it’s not just the Millennials driving the re-thinking.  Boomers are the historic drivers and believe it or not, they are still around!

It was never my intent to go after the funeral homes, but EXPERIENCE has worked with a set of them from the east coast to the Pacific west.  

In this morning’s WSJ, there’s a story titled, “The Freeform Funeral” that features an immediate family on a beach that just honored a passing member of the family.  The Boomers just might re-define funerals as technology did in redefining travel agencies. 

We have become re-entrenched in healthcare with a great project work in tandem with a very hip global architectural firm.  Last week I spent three hours with the healthcare leadership team in getting-to-know the changing neighborhoods around a new hospital acquisition. 

Many were surprised to learn that the neighborhoods that they assumed to be comprised of a certain type of end-consumer had changed… and future change is churning fast. 

Were the ideas generated concentrated all around the digital world of the Internet?

Absolutely not.  In fact, the ideas included pets, coaches, yoga studios and even a nutritional work-from-home café.

Whether its modular housing or new ways to manage health or designing a grocery store for 2030, the catalyst in innovation is driven by the consumer / end-user need.  

Not by what’s cute or funny or high tech or social or engineered. 

And it all begins with letting go of comfort and getting out from behind the walls of the cocoon.