Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The New Chic And Trendy

The “File-Tax-Time” is quickly approaching. 

Not only have I filed both my Uncle Sam and state tax returns… the taxes were filed electronically and I wait with bated breath to get refunds this year.


I start this blog off with the topic of filing taxes because taxes are more in their prime this year than ever before in the U.S.

Washington leadership grabs into the pockets of whomever, whenever and for whatever amount they can get their hands on.

Washington is one of the markets in the U.S. that has not experienced any housing slump.

I will put $100 on the table that there is a behavior relationship between those two variables I just cited.

This morning at the neighborhood Starbucks I visit regularly in the city, a friend of mine in the banking business came and sat at the community table with me.

He’s an investment portfolio advisor. 

A young lady came and sat at the table shortly after my friend arrived.

The young lady worked for a custom clothing retailer that literally custom designs and makes clothes for folks.

I asked her how much would a suit cost for a banker friend like mine sitting next to her. She replied that they had four levels of design and materials and a suit from their “budget” level would cost my friend $899.

When she left, I asked my banker buddy if he was going to call and order a suit.

He quickly replied…”No way.”

He went on to say… “I just cannot even begin to think of spending money like that on a suit.  I shop the sales and get very nice suits for much less than that amount.”

I am not a banker… nor do I wear suits.  So I quickly added that the “Chaps” branded sweater I was wearing was purchased at Kohl’s and cost $14.99 and the nice cotton button-down dress shirt I was wearing was from WalMart and cost $7.99. 

His reply was the reason why I had to carve out time this afternoon and post this blog.

He said… “Very cool.”

My morning reading at the Starbucks each morning is the Wall Street Journal while I sip on my cup of “small, regular coffee”… I refuse to incorporate the Starbucks-lingo in my language set.

There were three WSJ articles that prompted this blog.

The first one was showcased on the first page.  It was all about how the Millennial Generation debt is actually going down and that Millennials are more “budget-sensitive” than initially thought to be.

The Millennials are running up less debt on their credit cards… the lowest noted in 15 years… and are more hesitant to make a purchase without making sure it fits their budget.

No question that Millennials are quick to wise-up… or at least pay attention to what the apps tell them on their Smart Phones or their buds post on Facebook!

The second article was all about how JC Penney sales continue to drop off the cliff and that regularly scheduled discount sales are coming back more while the “chic designer in-store racks” may not roll out as fast.

Its funny how chic designer store racks can make it in Target, but not in JC Penney. 

Something in my gut says it’s hard to make tried and true… hip and cool.  Sears continues an uphill climb too. 

Maybe simply going to a mall is nor long chic and cool.

There are also some folks saying that the ex-Apple JC Penney CEO Ron Johnson might be the issue.

By the way, when you Google Ron Johnson he comes up on Wikipedia.

Wikipedia posts that Ron still resides in California and jets back and forth on a company jet several times a week to his office in Plano, Texas. 

If Ron Johnson hired EXPERIENCE to help him, my first suggestion would be for Ron to ax the corporate jet and get on a Greyhound bus on his next jaunt to his California McMansion. 

Back to the main purpose of this blog post.

The third article I read is what prompted me to shift around my schedule today and carve out time to write this blog.

The article has the headline:  “IKEA Plans A Hotel Brand.”

IKEA walks a very different path than that of JC Penny or Sears. 

In some of the great Canadian and English designer magazines I get, many of the million dollar (ala pound) trendy estates feature IKEA furniture and cabinets.

The new IKEA Hotel Brand is not going to have IKEA furniture, but instead be constructed with some very novel construction techniques and prefab rooms that will be stacked together onsite. 

What IKEA is bringing to the table is the innovation of modular design, engineering and assembly.

Moxy Hotels is their new brand name. 

IKEA is partnering with Marriott to build the Moxy Hotels in Europe and North America.  

The CEO of Marriott is quoted in the article saying, “This is a fresh new take on the economy segment.”

What strikes me in all of what I have shared is that the innovative, creative, entrepreneurial drive of the marketplace embraces changes, reconfigures the dynamics of convention and reinvents ways to move business forward.

No question that the half-empty glass of living on a budget is now a day-to-day foundation of many, many different generational and income groups.

Finding ways to create the chic, designer look for pennies on the dollar is driving the programming and content of many of the top hits on TV and top sites on the Web.

This is not a temporary market glitch.

And this does translate to gloom and doom. 

The Washington politicians and academic theorists can pontificate all they want and the CEOs and corporate marketing leadership can dwell in the past as long as the stockholders tolerate it.  

What is chic and trendy is changing fast.

The entrepreneurs that not only just accept it, but also embrace it and make it cool will be the winners. 

Those are the folks I want to partner with as clients.