Is Workplace Design Reflecting Trends or Shaping Them?

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 8.43.41 AMOffice design is reflective of new work styles and the trends toward “agile” working. Many companies utilize and combine different styles like hubs, clubs, at home and roaming.

This brings up the classic chicken and egg question: are changes in the way people work requiring new office design approaches or are trends in design itself influencing the way people work? In my view, work itself is being redefined and design is playing catch up. Go back in time and note that in the 1950s and 60s many executives had their own offices and even a dedicated (almost always) female secretary- think “Mad Men.” Over time and to save money as companies were under pressure to trim costs, the now dreaded cubicle was invented – which gave people their own cordoned off space, but were hardly private. And now we have all sorts of variations including what WeWork calls the Hot Desk – a first come, first served desk in a common area; as well as dedicated desks in open space plans; sharing of conference rooms as the perennial private office.

WeWork, in fact, has become a global force in incubator spaces and is now in 15 cities in the US and 13 countries around the world. To read more see this excellent article in Design Week:

Self Driving Cars -Just Down the Road

Tesla's self-driving prototype

Tesla’s self-driving prototype

Implications are very positive for marketers as “drivers” will have more time 

It is not news that autonomous vehicle development programs are nearing market launch. Alphabet current has cars on the road and the projected timetable for commercial launches includes:  Uber and Volvo 2017, GM 2018, Tesla 2019, Nissan 2020 and Ford 2021. While most people are in denial, which is often the case with game changing technologies, soon our driving culture will change. Part of the promise is increased safety. This past year over 43,000 people in the U.S were killed in traffic accidents and this total is predicted to decline significantly with the advent of self-driving cars.

From a marketing perspective there will be new opportunities to get advertised messages and branded content in front of “drivers,” who will soon have more time on their hands to read magazines, use their mobile devices and who knows maybe even pick up a newspaper – wouldn’t that be a novel idea?

According to a report in the wall street journal Delphi Automotive and Mobileye, two leading auto parts suppliers are collaborating to manufacture “fully autonomous driving system that car makers could begin placing in their vehicles in 2019.”

This will change our culture, improve our time management and allow for advertisers to have new, more engaging ways to reach consumers during their daily commutes. Brands that start their planning early will have an advantage.

Top 5 Reasons Why “Top 5” Posts May Be Hurting Your Brand

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 8.56.23 AMRemember the old trick where someone would create an ad that said “Sex,” and then the body copy would read “Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about…” Dishonesty and trickery, while initially getting your attention, usually leaves people disappointed or worse yet upset and predisposed to not wanting what you are selling. How many times have we all been tricked into reading a blog post that promised the “Top 5” or “Top 10 Reasons?”  The rationale in favor of this blogging tactic is that “it must work, otherwise people would not do it.”  A valid point perhaps, but marketers need to ask if the net result is in fact brand building or rather aversion. So here are my TOP 5 REASONS WHY TOP 5 POSTS ARE HURTING YOUR BRAND:

Reason #1:  People are sick of it.

Reason #2:  Interest is converted to dislike.

Reason # 3: You bury the benefit or value of your brand.

Reason #4: Your brand is seen as not authentic

Reason #5: Awareness, in many cases is less important than preference

Is this a brand innovation? Wake up and smell the chewable tablet?

Screen Shot 2016-03-17 at 11.44.27 AMIt has finally happened. Technology is now taking away one of the last remaining true pleasures in life: the aroma and flavor of a nice hot cup of coffee. In case you haven’t seen it you might want to explore the latest craze from Nootropics, the creators of Go Cubes who claim to be “experts at cognitive enhancement.”  Kind of reminds me when my dry cleaner told me a few years ago that he wants to be seen as a “cleaning solutions provider,” instead of a plain old dry cleaner.  Non-the-less, the new chewable coffee made a great impression at SWSW, where it was offered as more portable than coffee, less expensive per serving and containing ingredients that temper coffee’s harsher effects. Created by techies, GO Cubes now face a brand challenge to appeal to a broader audience outside of geeky engineers trying to stay up all night to write a few more lines of code. Taking on coffee is most probably a thankless task as the coffee “habit” is a global, cultural phenomenon that does not conform to any kind of rational alternative no matter how convenient or cost effective. Pretty much all branding professionals these days know that successful brands must not only provide value but have to deliver an engaging customer experience. So, I invite anyone who is interested to sit down with the NY Sunday Times, a warm and crackling fire place and a plate full of chewable caffeine tabs, now known as the Go Cube. In my view the Go Cube will soon be rebranded the “Gone Cube.”  Goodbye and good luck!

Can you name the six generations of consumers?

World War II/Swing generations
Members of the WWII Generation were born in 1932 or before and are
aged 82 or older in 2014. Members of the Swing Generation were born
from 1933 to 1945 and are aged 69-81 in 2014.

Baby Boomers
The generation born between 1946 and 1964. In 2014, Baby Boomers are
between the ages of 50 and 68.

Generation X
The generation born between 1965 and 1976. In 2014, Gen Xers are
between the ages of 38 and 49.

Born between 1977 and 1994, Millennials are aged 20 to 37 in 2014.

Born between 1995 and 2007, members of iGen are aged 7-19 in 2014.

Emerging generation
The newest generation began in 2008 as the annual number of births
declined sharply with the recession. In 2014 members of this as-yet unnamed
generation are younger than 7.

The importance of the word “The”

In case you are late to the party, the official name of a country in the news a lot this week is “Ukraine,” not “The Ukraine.”  Lest you think this a small thing, it is a big deal to the residents and patriots of a nation that in 1991 established its independence from the former Soviet Union and formally asked the world to drop the “the.”  The difference between a “state” with an independent constitution and sovereignty is a meaningful distinction from a region or geographic area – as in say, The Arctic, The Azores or The Pacific Ocean.  The other factor, as a recent  article from the Business Insider points out is the derivation of the word Ukraine, which in Old Slavic was Ukrania or borderland, hence the need for the “the”.    [ I always wanted to write a sentence with the words “the the.”]

In any event, I wish them all well in this difficult time and hope that the interests of the citizens will prevail over a forced military solution to their sovereignty.

Google searches for "Ukraine" outnumber those for T"he Ukraine"

Google searches for Ukraine outnumber those for The Ukraine”

Is smart phone penetration fueling the next generation gap?

For thousands of years there has existed a gap between young and old. This much is a constant – but, is it possible smart phones are “pouring kerosene on the fire?” I was surprised to learn that according to a November 2013 study by comScore smart phone penetration shows a wider than expected gap between millennials and people over 55. Given the growing importance of mobile devices in the marketing mix, if the trend continues to widen it is likely that as people age they will fall farther behind in the attempt to stay culturally current. One data point is just a snap shot, but as those aged 18-34 increase their use of smart phones (ultimately approaching 100%), it will be interesting to see if the percentage difference will continue or perhaps even accelerate. At some point 100% of all phones will be “smart,” so you could argue the gap will ultimately narrow to parity, but the real issue is not whether people have smart phones but how as a result of usage their buying behavior and communications patterns change. smart phone penetration