It’s very easy to get lost.
While the three martini lunch that the Madison Avenue ad agency and media maven craze made famous is long-gone, it’s not difficult to get lost in the pages of Town & Country Magazine and think that everyone, everywhere lives the fashion life.
Madison Avenue and the corporate boardrooms still promote that the fashion live is all alive and well.
This past week, I sipped coffee and read the Wall Street Journal at a local Virginia-Highland coffee house. Two Emory University MBA students at the table next to mine.
The two guys were very professionally outfitted in their blazers, button-downs and ties.
They chatted about their expectations of their first management job touting the great cities they were aiming to move to like San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Boston.
They spoke about their ideal career that as far as they were concerned was going to be their first job out of school.
They spoke about their ideal home and cars, again, things that they would gain access to shortly.
They spoke about the marketplace.
Not surprisingly, a dialogue filled with perceptions of people and cultures they imagine to exist... at least, the culture painted in their MBA case discussions.
It took a lot out of me to stay focused on the Wall Street Journal.
I wanted to put them in my car and go on a journey into what really makes up America.
It’s very easy to get lost.
So far, the best part of my Thanksgiving break was going to a McDonald’s on Black Friday.
I got there early… Just after 7:00am.
Next to where I sat was a table filled with women. They were using their iPhones to check just what was going on sale, where and when.
I started up a conversation with them.
I asked them if they were just beginning their shopping spree or had already been to stores.
They replied that they had been shopping since 7pm on Thanksgiving Day … all night … all over the place.
They went on to tell me about the deals they found and how they found some online and some instore.
They were planning to head about 30 miles west toward the “Big City” and then on from there back to their home town.
As I listened to them share their stories, I could not help but quickly put them into target group “buckets” I am in the process of building for two new clients.
Both of my clients have businesses located in smaller town America.
There is a target group I coin as “Blue Sky Homesteaders” and another one termed “Heartland Seniors.” These two groups make up about three out of every ten U.S. Households.
After I had breakfast, I went to a couple stores myself -- more to watch people than to shop. Later in the afternoon, I was back in the city of Atlanta and had a chance to chat with some folks shopping in the city.
I know what many of you are thinking.
There are masses out there shopping the Wal-Marts of the America that might represent a share of our population, but really only a small share. All the rest of the population is much more educated, professional and aspiring.
Last week, I conducted a discussion group with homeowners who reside in a relatively nice, fashionable, Atlanta neighborhood. One of my clients is going to be opening up a home design store in first quarter of 2014 and we are putting together their marketing program.
Going into the group, I was convinced that I was going to sit in on a group of women who truly lived in House Beautiful set-designed homes.
No question that the group was upscale.
Most of the attendees were in their late 30s or 40s.
When I asked the group to visualize their ideal home space, I was surprised. The words, “Simple,” “Warm.” and “Clean” were used a bunch to describe the space. “Fashionable,” “Trendy,” “Luxurious” and “Designer” were not used at all.
In fact, the group voiced how they used HGTV and Home Depot to get ideas more and custom interior designers less.
My client was surprised.
The high-brow ‘hoods of the past are becoming “more commonplace.”
Lastly, there was an article this past week in the Wall Street Journal that I found very intriguing.
I actually read the article during that morning coffee in which the MBAs were sitting next to my table.
The article talks about what is driving the new teenage shopping market.
The article has a sub-title that reads, “It’s Goodbye to Big Brand Names, Hello to Cheap Fast Fashion.”
Forever 21, H&M, Target and Wal-Mart are in and Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Aeropostale and designer labels are out.
Going into 2014, I encourage my clients and marketers alike to take time out. Get a breakfast at a McDonald’s and forego the Starbucks. Go to the nearby Wal-Mart and Forever 21. Spend the afternoon in a Home Depot and chain grocery store.
Do it before your corporate marketing team meets or the ad agency comes in with a presentation.
Its very easy to get lost.