Wednesday, January 27

Mumbai Builds 'Skywalks,' Elevated Walkways That Let Pedestrians Move Above Crowded Streets


MUMBAI—Mumbai's muddled streets are too packed to walk through, so India's commercial capital has come up with a solution. Uplift the masses—not in some fuzzy metaphysical way, but on "skywalks" made of steel.



Skywalks, India's Sidewalks in the Sky


The streets in the crowded megacity of Mumbai are running out of space for pedestrians, so the city has come up with a lofty solution: Elevated skywalks. WSJ's Eric Bellman reports.

Most streets here have no footpaths. The sidewalks that do exist are bursting from a gridlock of walkers, street vendors and squatters. The scrum has become even pushier recently as hundreds of thousands migrate to this city of nearly 18 million people for jobs created by its economic expansion. Success has also led to an unprecedented number of cars and motorcycles on the road.

To lift the pedestrians that power this city above the fray, Mumbai is building more than 50 elevated walkways. The skywalks will sprout from train stations across the city and snake over the traffic for up to two miles to create a pedestrian express lane.

Shubhangi Ambardekar, a 47-year-old bank employee, used to splurge on an auto rickshaw every workday to avoid the mess on the roads around Bandra train station in central Mumbai. Rickshaws don't like taking such short trips so she would often have to wait 20 minutes before one would take her. Today she uses the new Bandra Station skywalk, strolling two floors above the cacophony. She saves the fare and arrives at work relaxed.

Mumbai Pedestrians to Get Raised Paths

Michael Rubenstein for The Wall Street Journal

Pedestrians walk to work on a skywalk connecting the Bandra train station and the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai last month.

"There's security, it's clean and we get fresh air too," she said on a walk home from work.

The skywalk Ms. Ambardekar uses was the first the city finished last year. Locals have dubbed the bright, twisting structure the "Yellow Caterpillar." At a height of around 20 feet, it meanders for around a mile, delivering commuters to one of Mumbai's many new office parks.

The fate of the city's foot soldiers is crucial because close to 60% of the trips made here are on foot. That makes this one of the most pedestrian-powered metropolises in the world. Until now, however, pedestrians have been largely ignored.

Some Mumbaikars, as citizens are known, aren't happy. Retailers say they are losing business while residents say skywalks block views, allow pedestrians to peek into private homes and are just as likely to be taken over by homeless families and shopless vendors as the sidewalks.

"Whether you have skywalks or not, the problems will remain the same," says Ashok Ravat, head of the Mahim Skywalk Protest Committee, which was created to block a long skywalk scheduled to twist through his neighborhood in central Mumbai. "This is another huge mistake."

Still, something had to be done, city planners say. The road under the Yellow Caterpillar, like station roads across the city, is an obstacle course through a minefield. Commuters spill down the Bandra Station steps and into a knot of three-wheeled auto rickshaws, buses and trucks on the street below. The closest thing to a sidewalk here is a patch of dirt next to a crud-filled creek. Hundreds of commuters walk in the street, dodging vehicles as they go.

Sidewalk Squeeze

See what's squeezing the sidewalk around Mahim.

On the way to the nearby business park—home of Citigroup's main India office and the National Stock Exchange—they pass through a slum. The roadside is occupied by small shops, families living in plastic-tarp homes, parked motorcycles and goats rooting through garbage. The tiny stretch of sidewalk that eventually emerges about five blocks from the station is cut short by the fence of a small neighborhood police station built directly on top of it.

Then pedestrians have to find their way across an off-ramp of Mumbai's busiest highway. There is a functioning traffic signal and even a policeman at the corner, but drivers often ignore both.

The obvious solution of widening the sidewalks just isn't an option. Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay, is a thin spit of land bound on three sides by the Arabian Sea. Moving buildings to widen roads is next to impossible thanks to tough tenancy laws. Courts and politicians sensitive to the needs of the micro-entrepreneur make it difficult to move illegal street vendors.

"We clear them and they just come back," says Ashwini Bhide, joint metropolitan commissioner of the Mumbai Municipal Regional Development Authority. "That's why we thought, 'Let's create some additional space on the road by going elevated.' "

Skywalks are quick to build, relatively inexpensive and only require land the city already controls. The projected bill for the 50-plus skywalks is around $300 million. The city expects to recover most of that cost by selling advertising space on them.

While Hong Kong has a network of elevated walkways and Minnesota has its "skyway" system to shelter commuters from harsh winters, Mumbai city planners say they came up with this idea on their own.


A Mumbai skywalk

"It was a local solution for a local problem," says Ms. Bhide. "Because of a paucity of space and such a short supply of land there is no other alternative."

Building the perfect skywalk, however, hasn't been easy. While the walkways run over government roads, there still often isn't space on the ground to plant enough supporting columns. Longer stretches between columns mean the city has to spend more on stronger, lighter materials and thicker columns. Commuters found the early skywalks too boxy and bright, so new ones use curved roofs, dark colors and chrome.

When engineers started digging to build the foundations, they found the chaos on the street continues underground. A few feet down, they ran into uncharted water, electricity and phone lines as well as sewers, forcing them to redesign whole skywalks. Trying to get the city water authorities or state-run telephone company to shift infrastructure would take too long.

Engineering difficulties and neighborhood opposition have blocked six planned skywalks and could stop more, city planners say. But they will continue building them because the streets are getting worse everyday. The city has hired armed guards to keep skywalks clear and the response from commuters has been largely positive.

Ms. Ambardekar, the commuter, uses her neighborhood skywalk even on her days off.

"Our city is so crowded we don't have a place to walk or exercise," she says. "My friend and I come up to the skywalk for our evening walks."

—Arlene Chang contributed to this article.

Write to Eric Bellman at

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Social Media and Collaborative Marketing

<img style="visibility:hidden;width:0px;height:0px;" border=0 width=0 height=0 src="*xJmx*PTEyNjQ1OTQyMzI4MzImcHQ9MTI2NDU5NDI*ODU*NCZwPTEwMTkxJmQ9c3NfZW1iZWQmZz*yJm89YzAyNTEwYTJiMWM3/NDdlN2I3NTM4MjU2NzJkZGViYmMmb2Y9MA==.gif" /><div style="width:425px;text-align:left" id="__ss_2967561">Social Influence Marketing Trends<div style="font-size:11px;font-family:tahoma,arial;height:26px;padding-top:2px;">View more presentations from shivsingh.</div></div>


Shiv Singh from Razorfish has put a great presentation that highlights the value of social media as part of a collaborative approach to marketing. Shiv calls it Social Influence Marketing, but it’s essentially an approach to marketing that includes the customers in many of the activities.

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Tuesday, January 26

Reckoning with Chinese Gen Y - BusinessWeek

Reckoning with Chinese Gen Y

New research on young Chinese shows they are modernizing but they are not Westernizing

Visit a Chinese city today and you would assume that China is Westernizing. Young people sit in Starbucks (SBUX) drinking lattes, texting friends, and playing online games. However, don't be fooled. In China, 240 million young people are certainly modernizing, but they're also holding tight to Chinese values like responsibility for the extended family, adherence to the middle way or harmony, and care of relationships. Despite surface appearances, China's Generation Y is not becoming Western.

Generation Y (Gen Y) most commonly refers to the demographic cohort born in the 1980s to mid-'90s. Gen Yers are generally assumed to be reliant on new media and digital technology, have short attention spans, and demand entertaining and fast-paced information. Chinese refer to the post-1980 generation as clearly distinct from the post-'90 group. Accordingly we have focused on those born in the 1980s but use the global term "Gen Y."

Understanding Gen Yers is important because they make up almost 50% of China's workforce. As they have moved from school into jobs, organizations have noticed that this generation makes different demands and needs to be motivated in new ways. So we began to research what Gen Y values and what they expect from their careers and their lives. Our work is based on interviews and surveys of Gen Y Chinese and Westerners who have lived, studied, and/or worked abroad. These are urban youth, well-educated and with work experience. Altogether we have almost 200 data points.

A Global Culture?

While it might seem that we are experiencing global cultural convergence, let's take a deeper look. Young people everywhere use the same technology and wear similar clothes. But some similarities are superficial. Look beneath the surface image of Asians playing the same games as Westerners, and you will still see recognizably different cultural patterns. Chinese are among the highest users of online games, for instance, but even when they play through avatars and artificial names, experts can easily identify them as Chinese by their behavior online.

Our evidence suggests these international cultural artifacts, such as video games and skinny decaf lattes, are the currency of modern culture. Like the pidgin languages developed by early traders to make communication possible across regions, the artifacts have common usage but do not deeply change either side. In the urban Chinese Generation Y, we see this clearly. While their behavior is modern, their values and patterns remain deeply Chinese.

So what are traditional Chinese values? Ancient Chinese philosophers, writers over centuries, and modern cultural experts agree on the core themes. This has been confirmed by our work over the last 15 years with groups of Chinese managers, asking them to define "Chinese-ness." According to all these sources, traditional Chinese values focus on family, relationships, achievement, endurance, and sacrifice of one's self for the group. They also include the ideal of the golden mean or harmony, and hierarchy as the basis for social structure and interaction.

Gen-Y Chinese have high expectations for their careers and expect to work diligently to achieve these. However, despite their popular image as the "Me Generation," we find that they hold up traditional family values. Asked "what is really important to you," 45% said "family," with "friends" following at 17% and "career" at 12%. Gen Y feels keenly responsible both for their nuclear family and their grandparents, even for aunts and uncles. They feel responsible despite the fact that there is little personal communication; most say they cannot ask about details of family history or discuss personal subjects with their elders.

We also asked young Chinese to choose one wish that would make their life happier. Surprisingly, 82% chose to do something for their parents, most commonly to provide them an easy life. A typical answer was: "I would be instantly happy if my parents could have a beautiful house so they could feel really good." We then asked a follow-up. "And if you already had that, then what might your second wish be?" One answered in a flash: "I would like my parents to also have a fish pond in their garden."

The desire for harmony is exhibited in how the Chinese respondents describe their personality characteristics. Western respondents describe themselves in polar terms, while 46% of the Chinese presented themselves as seeking balance. When put into new environments, Chinese Gen Ys emphasize the development of new friendships while Western respondents focus almost entirely on the new aspects of a novel environment and the emotions arising from the experience. Chinese have higher interdependency; it is part of their cultural pattern emphasizing relationships and groups rather than individualism.

The single most surprising result of our research is that 70% of the young Chinese consider themselves spiritual, while only half the Westerners do so. Many Chinese respondents answered: "I don't have a religion but I believe in a universal power." More important, almost every Chinese interviewed used the word "destiny" in talking about their spirituality, regardless of whether they claimed adherence to a particular religion. Gen Y seems to be further expanding the resurgence of spiritual traditions described in a previous posting.

The evidence indicates that it is smart for the Chinese government to allow the expression of spiritual feelings in these channeled ways because the young generation needs it.

The Impact of Gen Y

Our research shows that Gen Yers remain deeply Chinese in their values and perceptions. They do not look like their grandparents, but their motivations and priorities are very similar. Chinese Gen Ys modernize, they do not Westernize.

Our research results show that Gen Y is the first group in China to seriously question one of these core values, as they challenge the preeminence of hierarchy. While they take for granted that hierarchy exists, Gen Yers are less willing than earlier generations to accept it. Hence some of the issues that employers raise about their young staff: "How do we get good results from someone who won't do what we say?" "How do we win their loyalty?" "Why don't they trust us?" These difficult questions demonstrate the area in which Gen Yers are least like their parents: unquestioning acceptance of hierarchy and authority.

For many Western China-watchers, it has been a question of when, rather than if, the Chinese young will claim the right to personal freedom in the wake of economic growth. Looking closely at the Chinese Gen Ys makes us wonder whether this assumption makes sense. Chinese Gen Ys want to keep their society built on collective harmony and effective relationship management. At the same time, their refusal to accept authority unquestioningly indicates a new level of critical thinking.

This combination is already causing difficulty in the workplace illustrating the inherent dilemma between maintaining harmony and questioning authority. Chinese culture is strong, and when these 240 million Chinese Gen Ys come into power we may see a progressive new face of this traditional society, but they will have to face the modern dilemma they are creating. In our next column, we will focus on Gen Y's new relationship to the workplace, looking at the challenges for their supervisors who need to find ways of managing Gen Y more effectively.

Thøgersen is a professor at Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou and currently a visiting scholar at CEIBS. A Ph.D. Nandani Lynton is faculty at the Euro-China Centre for Leadership and Responsibility at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, ranked Nr. 8 globally by the FT in 2009. With more than two decades of international experience in the private and public sectors, Lynton focuses on developing effective leadership in global organizations. She has lived and worked in India, the U.S., and Germany. Based in China since 1993, Lynton built and ran an organizational consulting firm before joining Thunderbird School of Global Management in 2004, switching to CEIBS in 2008.

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Twitter study by faberNovel and L’Atelier

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

The Business of Fashion | Blog Archive | Fashion 2.0 | Chanel Learns to Think Like a Media Company

Fashion 2.0 | Chanel Learns to Think Like a Media Company

“Vol de Jour” by Karl Lagerfeld | Source:

“Vol de Jour” by Karl Lagerfeld | Source:

NEW YORK, United States — In recent seasons, while a deep economic downturn has threatened the long-term survival of many magazines, a number of major fashion brands have been creating their own editorial content, and perhaps no brand has done more of this than Chanel. Back in November, Olivier Zahm posted an image of several layouts from 31 Rue Cambon, announcing “the first Chanel magazine which I have art directed and designed for Karl Lagerfeld, to be distributed worldwide in all the Chanel stores.”

But whereas 31 rue Cambon will be a print publication, Chanel’s real content focus has been in the digital space, harnessing Karl Lagerfeld himself to create increasing volumes of original content for digital distribution, especially around the brand’s showcase “Métiers d’Art” collections, which underscore Chanel’s unique commitment to the traditional Parisian ateliers the firm acquired in 2002 — costume jewellers Desrues, embroiderers Lesage, milliners Michel, feather-makers Lemarié, cobblers Massaro, floral designers Guillet, and silversmiths Goosens — a strategic point of differentiation.

Having created runway videos, a silent film and short video teasers to accompany their Paris-Moscou Pre-Fall 2009 and Paris-Venice Resort 2009-2010 “Métiers d’Art” collections, Chanel recently launched a longer-format film and a full runway video for their Paris-Shanghai Pre-Fall 2010 collection. To accompany Paris-Shanghai, Mr. Lagerfeld has also been posting a series of behind the scenes video diaries documenting his design process, as well as fittings with models and the making of advertising campaigns, all released via YouTube and the Chanel News section of the brand’s website.

In fact, Chanel News looks a lot like a blog and publishes “exclusive online features” with enough originality, regularity and volume to qualify as an online magazine. As well as the videos for the “Metiers d’Art” collections, there are fittings with Lily Allen for Spring Summer 2010, a ballet filmed in the haute couture salon at 31 rue Cambon, images of Coco Chanel’s private apartments shot by Olivier Zahm, photos of Edita Vilkeviciute’s favourite places in Shanghai, drawings of the Paris-Moscou collection by Russian model Sasha Pivavorova, personal entries from “Karl’s Diary,” and short films such as “Fitting Room Follies” and “Vol de Jour” featuring Lara Stone. With new features added every few days, it’s a remarkable volume of material.

So why is Chanel investing in creating and publishing all this digital content? The answer is rooted in the changing nature of media, marketing and technology and underscores lessons that all major fashion brands would do well to observe.

In the past, marketing fashion collections mostly meant buying pages in magazines or space on strategically positioned billboards. In both cases, brands paid to interrupt consumers, repeating a visual theme or message in order to create recognition, desire and conversion. By exerting their influence as advertisers, brands also forced magazines to feature their products in their editorial. But today, affluent consumers are migrating online, where the balance of power is dramatically different.

It’s hard for consumers to avoid advertising when they’re flipping through a magazine or walking down the street. And it’s hard for publishers to ignore advertisers’ demands when the costs of printing and distribution are high. But on the web, where the tools of communication are largely free — it costs nothing to publish a blog, share on Facebook, or broadcast on Twitter — brands no longer have the leverage to monopolise media or pressure editors. In fact, the sheer volume of media and commentary generated by consumers themselves increasingly drowns out the monologue of traditional marketing.

These days, it’s not about being louder. It’s about being more interesting. To communicate effectively, brands must inspire and harness conversations amongst consumers by giving people something remarkable to talk about — something of value that they will actively seek out, amplify and share with others. In this new reality, forward-thinking fashion brands like Chanel are learning to think like media companies, creating and publishing original editorial content to earn attention and attract fans who will carry their message across the internet.

This approach makes particular sense for luxury fashion brands who are known for their creativity and ability to convey social status. That’s because, online, content is social currency: influencers increasingly earn friends and followers by circulating interesting digital content via their blogs, Facebook and Twitter.

For Chanel, there are signs that this is just the beginning of a broad strategy to give consumers a continuous stream of inspiring content to talk about and spread across the internet, driving recognition, desire and conversion. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Bruno Pavlovsky, president of Chanel fashion, recently announced plans to relaunch the current Chanel News blog, this March, as a full blown destination,“The idea is to give all these social networks a location where they can have genuine information about Chanel,” Pavlovsky said.

Watch this space.

Vikram Alexei Kansara is Managing Editor of The Business of Fashion

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The Socialized Shopper

New research shows how social media is changing shopping behavior.

It’s no secret that social media is one of the hottest topics on marketers’ radars. What isn’t widely known is how to use social-media contacts to drive sales directly.

People of all ages are using social-networking sites and other user-generated content platforms at astonishing rates, and brands are scrambling to create social-media strategies both as part of their overall marketing and in isolation.

In fact, Forrester Research estimates that social-media marketing budgets will grow 34 percent per year from 2009 to 2014 — faster than any other form of online advertising. Moreover, within five years, social media budgets will be larger than those for both mobile and email marketing activities.

Despite all of this increased attention and spending, we actually know very little about what is perhaps the most critical factor in achieving positive ROI through social-media marketing: How people’s behavior in shopping for and buying products is impacted by social media.

Leo Burnett and Arc Worldwide recently fielded a research study that uncovers this connection. More than 3,500 online U.S. respondents completed interviews about media contacts that they may have in their shopping experiences across 10 product categories.

Then, 500 respondents who had experienced social media brand contact during a shopping experience (called “Social-Media Shoppers”) and 500 respondents who had not (“Non-Social Media Shoppers”) completed a follow-up interview that delved more deeply into shopping behaviors and attitudes. This provided the opportunity to identify the differences and similarities between these two groups of people.

It’s big and growing: There are 95 million social-media shoppers in the United States. More than 40 percent of U.S. adults are using social media in their shopping experiences, and this trend appears likely to continue. When asked how often social media is used in shopping versus a year ago, almost 30 percent said they are using it more, while three percent said they are using it less.

Currently, social-media contacts are made in a variety of forums. For 35 percent of shoppers, the process includes — or starts with — online search. What’s surprising is that 30 percent read user reviews on retailer websites as a part of the shopping process.

So, who are these social-media shoppers? They come from all walks of life, but the study uncovered a heightened relationship between age, education level and the use of social media in shopping. As expected, because they’ve grown up using technology, people under 35 and those holding college degrees are most likely to be social-media shoppers.

Interestingly, the study also revealed that social-media shoppers are not necessarily very “actively social.” Only about one in four social-media shoppers contributes anything to a conversation about a brand or product; the rest view content posted by others. So, a very small group influences a very large group.

Social-media shoppers are more engaged with media and spend more time shopping. Importantly, shoppers who access social media in their shopping process still use historically prevalent contact channels such as television, radio, magazine, newspaper ads and direct mail, as well. In fact, they tend to engage even more with these channels (see chart one).

Social-media shoppers see more value in the opinions of other everyday people as useful input in their shopping decisions. For example, 39 percent of social-media shoppers strongly agree that they can learn a lot more about a brand by seeing what everyday people are saying about it online versus only 22 percent of non-social media shoppers.

Social-media shoppers have broadened the set of sources they use for validation and are seeking additional information beyond what marketers, manufacturers, and retailers provide.

Incorporating all of these additional social-media sources into shopping takes time. In fact, social-media shoppers are spending a significantly greater amount of time shopping. Their greater time investment does not, however, automatically lead to a similarly significant difference in what they spend.

While other research shows that shoppers gaining information from retailer and manufacturer websites are likely to buy more expensive featured products, we find that social-media shoppers are only a bit more likely to spend more (see chart two).

Social media impacts behavior throughout the shopping process.Television, print, magazine, direct mail and online research brand contacts are most likely to take place at the beginning, and in-store contacts tend to spike at the end of the shopping process, but social media holds steady throughout (see chart three). This suggests social media needs to play multiple roles in shopping as they are tapped at many stages during the path-to-purchase.

Social brand-contacts are a communal activity. To reveal why different types of media are accessed by shoppers, respondents were asked to rate a series of motivations for using media in their shopping. Creating a perceptual map of findings validated two obvious, but unproven, benefits of using social media in shopping.

Specifically, social media enables shoppers to gather the impressions and analysis of others while channels such as television, print and radio allow them to form their own impressions and analysis (see chart four). This introduces a significant point regarding the “wisdom of the crowd.”

With so few people actually contributing to the conversation, the early adopters and posters have a heavily weighted influence on the message. Their impact is the greatest and can become self-perpetuating.

Social media’s impact on shopping varies widely by category. Nearly 50 percent of people shopping for computer hardware/software and books are likely to incorporate social media into the shopping process. With greater purchase risk and reward, greater value is given to the opinions and advice of others.

In contrast, only nine percent of people shopping for laundry detergent and soft drinks are likely to use social media. Conventional wisdom might suggest this is because people don’t seek peer reinforcement when buying lower-involvement, commodity-type products.

However, an argument could be made that engagement with social media contacts in such categories is low simply because those contacts aren’t as readily accessible or heavily promoted. If true, this presents a ripe opportunity for both brands and retailers.

What This Means

It’s clear that it’s not enough for brands simply to have a social-media presence — a Facebook fan page, Twitter account or corporate blog, for example. If brands truly want to connect with shoppers and impact their ultimate purchase decisions using social contacts, they must develop strategies that continually engage with shoppers throughout the process.

Although the “right” approach will undoubtedly vary from brand to brand, here are a few guiding principles that marketers can refer to when devising their social-media plans:

 • Monitor constantly, listen early and respond regularly. People are constantly talking about brands (on social-networking sites, blogs or ratings/reviews sites, etc.), to the tune of hundreds of thousands of conversations per day.

As a result, much like Best Buy with its @Twelpforce Twitter account, brands should: Monitor social media chatter with regularity; listen in real time to consumer comments (both positive and negative); incorporate that feedback into their marketing activities; provide answers and advice; and, when appropriate, engage people in further conversation.

• Facilitate conversation, don’t force it. Contrary to the practices of many marketers, blasting brand announcements and promotions to people via Facebook and Twitter does not constitute a viable social-media plan. As the research suggests, shoppers rely on social-media contacts to seek out the opinions of others.

To that end, brands need to provide tools — both on and off their sites — that facilitate conversations amongst shoppers and allow them to share information with each other in as turnkey a way as possible. Jansport’s integration of Facebook Connect into its onsite shopping experience is just one best-in-class example.

• Assess your competition. Brands can monitor social channels to determine how their competitors are using social media and the size/impact of their presence. Consider how their brand is being perceived versus yours, and why.

• Integrate social media into the broader communication strategy. The fact that social-media shoppers are supplementing, not replacing, other media contacts during the shopping process reinforces the importance of developing fully-integrated communication strategies.

Brands must ensure that their social-media messages are consistent with what people are exposed to on television, in print, in stores and elsewhere online, and that they’re encouraging cross-channel behavior.

Walgreens, for example, created a Facebook application that allows users to print and pick up their Facebook photos at local stores, and promotes that application through various print and online media.

Don’t think of social media as a campaign. Social media lives and breathes.

Engaging advocates to drive word-of-mouth to increase brand loyalty requires constant fuel, participation and management. 


MARK RENSHAW is EVP, Digital Practice Lead at Arc Worldwide and Leo Burnett. Arc Worldwide, the marketing services arm of Leo Burnett Group, specializes in shopper, digital, promotion and direct marketing.

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The We Decade

Creating community and higher purpose will elevate our brands in the 2010s.

The first decade of the new millennium is over, but no one seems to have found the words to capture the essence of these past ten years. The Eighties, for all its self-indulgent excess, was known as the “me” decade, and the Nineties, with its exuberant growth, was often called the “roaring ‘90s.”

But after all the turmoil of the 2000 election, the trauma of September 11th and the avarice that led to economic catastrophe, the decade just past apparently shall remain nameless. That’s kind of sad, but not entirely, because I believe the last ten years created the perfect climate for what is coming in the 2010s: The “we” decade.

It’s going to be an amazing ten years, a time when we put our personal interests in perspective, band together with our friends, family and neighbors and take aim at achieving a higher purpose.

When we look back on it, ten years from now, historians might trace the start of the “we” decade to the 2008 presidential election, and the winning campaign slogan, “Yes We Can.”

Regardless of how anyone feels about President Obama’s policies, or how his presidency turns out, there is no denying that his election was made possible by an unprecedented groundswell of “one-ness,” of community and shared purpose.

Those with a lighter touch might suggest it has its roots in the phenomenal launch of the Nintendo Wii, a technology that broke down the barriers of gender and age, bringing people together to play videogames that sometimes doubled as both mental and physical exercise.

Many will certainly point to the rise of online social-networks and the advent of open-source innovation as a driving force of the power of “we,” as well.

I’d like to suggest that when the story of this decade is written, many of us will point to the tiny town of Albert Lea, Minnesota. As of now, most people have never heard of Albert Lea, even though it was featured on the Oprah Winfrey show.

The Albert Lea Story

Exactly one year ago, the AARP, in partnership with a health-and-wellness group called Blue Zones, selected Albert Lea as a test case for the idea that a community commitment to health and longevity could add a collective 10,000 years of life expectancy to its citizenry.

What makes this so interesting is that the project does not center on a diet-and-exercise program, which is the way individuals typically try to improve their health and well-being.

Instead, the AARP/Blue Zones City Health Makeover, as it is called, encourages changes in behavior that emulate the lifestyles of some remote communities around the world where people live to be 100-years-old ten times more often than in the United States.

The elements of such lifestyles are based on a global research project by Dan Buettner, and documented in his 2008 book, The Blue Zones. Did you know, for instance, that people who eat a handful of nuts four times a week live two to three years longer than those who don’t? According to Dan, it’s a fact.

Most of Dan’s suggestions are simple behavioral shifts, such as storing snack foods in out-of-the-way places, keeping a bowl of fresh fruit handy, and serving food on smaller plates — studies show people eat 25 percent fewer calories when plates are reduced from 14 to 10 inches in diameter.

They extend to plating food at the counter instead of serving it family-style, and even include dropping friends who smoke, don’t exercise and spend too much time snacking while watching television.

In Albert Lea, the goal was to build personal changes in behavior by engaging the community as a whole. A total of 18 initiatives were implemented — involving local restaurants that added longevity-promoting foods to their menus, and educational cooking classes at the town’s Hy-Vee grocery store, for example.

Albert Lea’s mayor, Mike Murtaugh, pushed through a walking and biking trail, added new sidewalks and hundreds of kids got together to walk to school instead of taking the bus.

Volunteerism is an especially important part of the Albert Lea project. Participants are encouraged to make a list of their interests and then figure out how to activate those interests to help other people. This notion of giving back not only enhances the “we” but studies also show that people who volunteer have lower rates of cardiovascular disease.

While the program was originally planned as a 10-month project, town officials are so pleased with the results that they say they plan to continue it. The project’s greatest achievement, says city manager Victoria Simonsen, is “a new sense of connection in our town, a mutual support system that we didn’t have before.”

What I found so astounding was that this project moved a whole town into action over an extended period of time. That it became a movement within the town is simply amazing. It happened for one reason above all others: It created camaraderie that changed behavior around something people had tried and failed to do on their own.

It unleashed the power of “we” and changed people’s lives for the better.

Dan Buettner now plans to replicate Albert Lea’s success in communities across America, and I wish him all the best in that endeavor. At the same time, he’s building a brand — Blue Zone — that not only includes his book but also CDs and a product line sold via a website,

As marketers, we can learn a lot from Dan’s example. His approach certainly aligns with the guiding principles I’ve been writing about in the Hub for more than the past three years.

Me, We, Higher Purpose

For me, it’s all about how to create a deep soul connection with women and fundamentally change how they feel about our brands. It comes down to three things: “me, we, and higher purpose.”

Taken together, these three ideas point to the future of marketing and endless opportunities for innovation and business success.

Me. First, we need to re-think the intensity of the relationship our brands have with women. Brands sometimes aren’t thinking big enough about the role that they can have within women’s lives. They focus on insight and what women want, but there are different levels of depth of what that connection can be.

So, the “me” is about getting to a deep, aspirational desire or need. It means transcending a rational, functional or even an emotional benefit, and requires digging for those subconscious drivers of behavior.

The goal is to find the one thing that’s the trigger to an aspiration. That trigger needs to be relevant in her world in the context of her life, but also relevant to our brands. We must be able to own that, and it has to relate to our brands’ core values and existing promises.

The magic of “me” can be found in a deep dig with the consumer, while also understanding where our brands fit in that world. I call this the emotional truth — that one, single, subconscious, emotional trigger that’s most relevant to our brands in her life.

The more relevant the emotional trigger is, the more intense the response is. When you find that trigger, you’re going to enrich her life in ways she probably hasn’t even articulated, but that will impact her in a very big, positive way.

Most important, we convey to her that she matters. So much branding activity is one-way, which is a huge mistake. We know from our research (“Stand By Me,” The Hub, Nov/Dec 2009) how desperate she is for recognition in today’s world of disappointment, uncertainty, and mistrust.

She’s really in a place where she needs to know she matters. That is a huge opportunity for any brand. She’s our consumer: What are we doing to make her feel like she matters? When we connect with women at “me,” we’re letting her know she’s appreciated.

We. The “we” is about fulfilling her sense of belonging. She wants to have a feeling of one-ness, a feeling that she’s part of something larger than herself — both with other people as well as with a brand. We can accomplish this by joining together in shared values and shared ideals.

This is a big shift for marketers because it moves the relationship beyond “us” (the brand) and “them” (the consumer) to become “we.” Most marketers think in terms of doing something to the consumer. It’s more about doing something with her.

But if we want her to join us, we have to begin to see ourselves as equals. We need to evaporate the gap between “us” and “them.” We need to get to a place where we are at one with her, working toward the same goals, and sharing a sense of being part of something we — and others like us — care about.

This means making sure that we’re including our advocates in everything we do. If we first find this place where we are connecting with her at an aspirational level, and we also stand for bringing that sense of fulfillment to her, then we can let her drive the movement and be active within it.

As the brand we become the enabler of the conversation, not the center of the conversation. That is a real leap for marketers because we have always believed we control the conversation. But now we need to blend into the background because that’s a key part of this sense of belonging.

In fact, the consumer is not in the middle of the conversation, either. It is the idea — the sense of fulfillment — that’s in the middle of the conversation and we are all equal in moving that forward.

Doing so requires patience. We have to give up control, stop thinking about ordinary business issues and think about the benefits we’re bringing.

In the end, this creates the strongest kind of loyalty because we are standing for something she wants to belong to and be a part of.

Higher Purpose. Having a higher purpose fulfills her desire to leave a legacy by making the world a better place. This is a fundamental desire and it’s only grown in recent years. Women today are desperately seeking ways to find greater meaning in their lives.

Part of this comes from the many disappointments of the last decade and uncertainty in her financial future. She is looking for people, ideas and brands that she can trust, intimately. She is open to joining with brands that are transforming communities, society and the world. Brands that care.

When I explore these emotions with women, I ask them what they dream about, what they care about, what they worry about, and what they stand for. When I ask these questions, the age or demographic profile doesn’t matter — the importance of the world we live in and making it a better place comes up over and over and over again.

She wants to feel that she’s left a legacy that says she made a difference in the world. And she’s looking for places she can do that.

If we can help her fulfill that desire, she will want to be part of it. She will reach a higher purpose and fulfill a deep need for meaning in her life.

The deeper the “me” is and the stronger the “we” is, the more powerful is our ability to achieve higher purpose. They’re linked and it’s all based on an emotional truth. In Albert Lea, the emotional truth is “vitality.” So, ask yourself, what is the emotional truth for your brand?

Creating Cultural Value

Few brands are asking the most important question, and even fewer have begun to answer it. Many are solely focused on “me” — in fact, most invest heavily in gaining insights into how their consumers think or behave.

A good number try to capture “higher purpose” in some fashion, but usually this manifests itself as a short-term promotion based on one kind of cause or another. Often, it’s not aligned with the brand or company or mission.

Even when the cause is directly linked to the brand, the effect is weak because it is not linked to “me,” much less “we.” As a result, it is not sustainable, which is what made the Albert Lea example so compelling.

It was the sense of “we” that ignited the human connections within the town as a whole. It created engagement, interaction and support.

The Albert Lea experiment worked because so many people became invested not only in the quality of their own lives, but in the lives of everyone else around them. The higher purpose was about increasing the quality of life in the town, all centered on a common interest in longevity, health, vitality, happiness and connectivity.

The lesson is that, as marketers, we can’t stop at “me” and we can’t just skip to “higher purpose.” We need to do the hard work of “we.” Only then will we truly align with the hearts and minds of our partners, our consumers.

It all comes down to what I like to call cultural value. This works on an individual level — enriching her life by bringing intangible benefits that are derived from relationships with people, ideas and things that bring higher purpose and meaning to her as an individual. It feeds her sense of identity, which is the “me.”

This, in turn, feeds her relationships, which is the “we.” And it feeds her values, which is the “higher purpose.” When our brands bring cultural value, they have the potential to transform communities, society and the world at-large.

That’s exactly what happened in Albert Lea, and we can make it happen with our brands, too — not only during the “we decade” but for many decades to come. 



Me, We, Higher Purpose!

ME: Fulfills a deep, aspirational desire

  • Rethink the intensity of the relationship you have with your “citizens”
  • Enrich her life
  • Show her how she matters
  • Create a relationship with her that transcends rational and functional benefits


WE: Fulfills her sense of belonging

  • Provide the emotional intensity to create a movement
  • Create a sense of oneness with other stakeholders
  • Join together in shared ideals and values
  • Move the relationship beyond “us” and “them” to become “we”
  • For brands to do this we’ll need to get ourselves into a “we” mentality
  • Include advocates in everything we do
  • Let the consumer drive the movement
  • Be the enabler, not the center of the conversation


HIGHER PURPOSE: Fulfills her desire to leave a legacy by making the world a better place

  • Move beyond a sterile transaction to achieve higher purpose and meaning in her life
  • Look for people, ideas, brands that she can intimately trust
  • Transform her community, society and the world at-large



DORI MOLITOR is founder and CEO of WomanWise LLC( a WatersMolitor Company, a hybrid consultancy-agency specializing in marketing brands to women. Dori can be reached at (952) 797-5000.

Posted via web from sophie's posterous

Tesco buys into the movie business « Ruth Mortimer – Brand & Business Blog – Marketing Week

Supermarket Tesco has moved into movie-making (sort of). Not content with opening its Fresh & Easy shops in California, it appears that a little of Hollywood has rubbed off on the firm.

The retailer has formed a joint venture with US media firm Amber Productions to create a range of straight-to-DVD films that it will sell exclusively under the deal’s initial terms. The first movie is understood to be an adaption of Jackie Collins’ book Paris Connections. Other authors apparently under discussion for a Tesco release include Judy Blume and Philip Pullman.

Tesco says its role will involve marketing and sales rather than the creative process, but this is an interesting idea. Will you be keen to watch Tesco book-DVDs?

Posted via web from sophie's posterous

Sunday, January 24

What the Web of Tomorrow Will Look Like: 4 Big Trends to Watch

Ben Parr

January 24, 2010 by Ben Parr


What the Web of Tomorrow Will Look Like: 4 Big Trends to Watch

The Social Analyst is a weekly column by Mashable Co-Editor Ben Parr, where he digs into social media trends and how they are affecting companies in the space.

Did you know that it’s been nearly twenty years since the first website was placed online? Have you ever thought about how the Internet and the web have evolved in time?

Ponder it: the Internet, a complex series of interconnected networks, protocols, servers, cables, and computers, has evolved from its early days as U.S. Department of Defense research project into the foundation for the World Wide Web, what we use today to interact with one another via browsers, email, Twitter, SkypeSkypeSkype

, and millions of other online tools.

As we approach the imminent launch of the Apple Tablet and analyze new trends coming out of out of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (our full coverage), now is good time to reflect on what the web will look like in the next decade — and beyond.

I have four big predictions to share for what the web will look like in the near future. This is what I expect in the evolution of our online lives:

1. The Web Will Be Accessible Anywhere

Our society couldn’t operate today without Wi-Fi, but it didn’t become prevalent until the early to mid-2000s. Before that, we used Ethernet cables and before that, our primary method of connecting to the web was via phone lines. Every few years, our method of accessing the web changes to be faster and more accessible.

Two things make me believe that the web will be accessible from anywhere and at any time: the rise of wireless 3G and 4G networks and the likelihood for nationwide Wi-Fi to blanket the U.S. and beyond.

Let’s first talk about 3G: since its introduction in the early 2000s, it has quickly spread to major cities worldwide. Accessing the web is now as simple as pulling out your smartphone, and it’s getting faster with the introduction of 4G networks and 4G phones. The Apple Tablet is even rumored to have a data plan on Verizon and AT&T’s 3G networks. More and more laptops come with built-in 3G access as well.

Nationwide Wi-Fi is the more exciting prospect, though. In 2008, the FCC had an auction for for the 700 MHz wireless spectrum. A lot of attention was focused on that auction when GoogleGoogleGoogle

joined as a multi-billion dollar bidder. Some speculated that Google wanted to turn the spectrum into a nationwide Wi-Fi network. While Verizon eventually won, a nationwide Wi-Fi network is still very possible and, in fact, seems logical given the direction of web technology today.

The point is that more devices will have access to these networks and that these networks will be more prevalent as time goes on. Ten to twenty years down the road, people will wonder how we managed with laptops disconnected from a Wi-Fi or 4G signal.

2. Web Access Will Not Focus Around the Computer

In a column on CNN earlier this month, Mashable’s Adam Ostrow explored one of the biggest trends at CES: the embedding of the web outside of the computer . At present, we focus our Internet use in the U.S. on our laptops. In Japan though, many more access the web primarily through their phones, a trend that is just beginning to sweep the states.

This is just the beginning. New Internet-enabled TVs will allow us to browse from the living room and soon our cars will become Wi-Fi hotspots.

The Apple Tablet looks to be the next stage of this evolution. Rumor has it that not only is the device going to have 3G access, but Apple envisions it is a shared piece of hardware among the family. Instead of having to jump onto the computer to check your email, you can just have your girlfriend or boyfriend pass you the tablet to check out what’s going on.

In ten years, computers will only be a small percentage of how we use our web. We’re going to be accessing it from nearly every device and appliance we own.

3. The Web Will Be Media-Centric

The time of text-based interactions is going to diminish until they’re just a minor component of our web experience. Yes, we will always write, blog, and tweet, but as more and more devices adopt touchscreen interfaces and alternatives to the keyboard and mouse (it’s already happening), our reliance on videos from YouTubeYouTubeYouTube

and HuluHuluHulu

, social games like FarmVille, and interactive interfaces like the iPhone OS will grow rapidly.

Here are some of my thoughts on how I think this media-centric web will come to be:

- Voice-to-text technology will be a major part of the media-centric web. The technology isn’t accurate enough to use daily yet, but devices like the Nexus One are pushing its limits. In a decade or two, it’ll be accurate enough to be a viable replacement to our keyboards.

- Interfaces that rely on motions are going to be more important to computing and the media-focused web. Apple popularized phone touchscreen interfaces, and the Tablet has a good shot and popularizing that type of interface on larger-sized screens. While we have a lot more to figure out before touchscreens are popularized on the desktop, I do think it’s time isn’t far away. I look forward to abandoning the old mouse and keyboard interface.

- In the future, you won’t even have to touch the screen. HP’s “Wall of Touch” actually doesn’t require users to touch the screen in order to interact with it, and Microsoft’s Project Natal looks to turn gaming into a controller-less experience. This is the future.

- These interfaces simply make it easier to bring up images, videos, music, and other multi-media. It’s not about keyboard commands, but about apps, drag-and-drop, and having an immersive experience.

4. Social Media Will Be Its Largest Component

Stats published by Nielsen show that social media usage has increased by 82% in the last year, an astronomical rise. FacebookFacebookFacebook

, TwitterTwitterTwitter

, YouTube, blogs, and social interaction are becoming the focus of our online interactions, even more than search.

We’re social creatures, so it was only a matter of time until we figured out how to make the web an efficient medium for communication, sharing, and forging friendships. Now that we’re finally implementing the social layer though, it’s tough to find a scenario where the rise of social media doesn’t continue.

In ten years, when you access the web, most of the time you spend will be to connect with your friends. Almost all of that will be on social networks and through social media. It will be the #1 reason why we ever pull out our phones, tablets, or computers.

Posted via web from sophie's posterous

Thursday, January 21

russell davies: meet the new schtick


I did a presentation for a group of Guardian folk a couple of years ago. I wrote it up here. It was fun. And more importantly for me, it was useful, because I've been doing some variant of that presentation ever since. To the point I'd been starting to get really bored with hearing the same ad-libs. So I was rather pleased when they asked me back to talk again yesterday, and said, don't do any of that old stuff. Do some new stuff. I felt like Jerry Seinfeld going from this to this.

It wasn't great to be honest. It was OK. Got some laughs. Made some points. But wasn't as smooth as I'd have hoped. I need some time to get it working properly. But I thought writing it up on here might also help me improve it. Make me put it down in words rather than just slides and hand-waving.



I guess my main thrust was about 'post-digital' thinking. Which sounds good doesn't it? What do I mean? Hmm. I mean a few things:

1. Screens are getting boring. It's really hard to impress anyone with stuff on a screen any more. However clever you've been. However much thought you've put in. However good the tech is. No-one's impressed. They've all seen better stuff in ads and movies anyway - when will onscreen stuff be as good as that? Whereas doing stuff in the real world still seems to delight and impress people. Really simple stuff with objects looks like magic. Really hard stuff with screens still just looks like media.

2. There are a lot of people around now who have thoroughly integrated 'digitalness' into their lives. To the extent that it makes as much sense to define them as digital as it does to define them as air-breathing. ie it's true but not useful or interesting.

3. The stuff that digital technologies have catalysed online and on screens is starting to migrate into the real world of objects. Ideas and possibilities to do with community, conversation, collaboration and creativity are turning out real things, real events, real places, real objects. I'm not saying that this means that these things are therefore inately better, or that the internet has 'come of age' or any of that nonsense. I just mean that there are new, interesting things going on IRL and that they have some advantages (and penalties) that don't apply online.

I'm not sure I really said any of that yesterday but it was what was in my head.



Given that 'Post Digital' idea, these were some things I thought it might be interesting to talk about.


The first one, I have to confess, was not wholly new. It was a truncated version of what I said at Design Engaged and Widgety Goodness. Mostly bits of this, this, this, this and this. My basic point was that the assumptions about how advertising works we're baking into our media tools are wrong. And so we're making bad media tools. Things that will piss people off. I think that's largely because while Google and the rest of the clickonit scientists were relentlessly implementing a mechanistic, message and relevance based model of how advertising works the thoughtful bits of the advertising business (admittedly not large in number) had their head in the sand denying the existence of anything digital.

I do want to revisit this stuff, and it's implications, especially in the light of Julian's brilliant stuff here, but I won't do so right now.



So, by now, we're all very comfortable with people's desire to share all sorts of stuff about themselves. Data is/are streaming out of us into the world. For instance, these are two significant bits of 2009 data are available on my daytum page: (no, I don't have any invites I'm afraid, I stuck my email address in and a beta invite arrived some time later.)


And we're all familiar with the oft-cited examples of products with datastreams. Nike+. Fiat Ecodrive. Wattson etc. And we're seeing the emergence of twitter as a brilliant communication channel for objects. From MarsPhoenix, to TowerBridge to the shipping forecast.


(Gorgeous botanicalls picture by Matt, from this set on flickr.)

And now, of course, people are finding ways to make more things informationally connected, via botanicalls or pachube or what have you.

Or, indeed via RFID. And having spent a few days mucking about with tikitags and the violet mir:ror and ztamps I thought I'd chance it and have a go at demoing how relatively simple technology can delight us so by operating in/via the real world. It's a bit scary doing demos that involve wifi at conferences. Especially with French technology. But it seemed to work OK.


I showed how sticking these two little rabbit fellas on the reader thing could make things happen: like playing the This American Life podcast, or reading the Guardian Unlimited RSS feed out in a strange voice.




Or how if you stick this copy of the Elves And The Shoemaker on the reader a charmingly BBC voice will read the book for you. I showed the little modifications I'd made to Cargo Of Eagles - using the RFID tags I'd stuck in the back to trigger a specific iTunes playlist as a soundtrack for listening to the book. And I also showed Boffswana's Augmented Reality working, which was touch and go to with the low-light.

Now I know these aren't leading edge techologies or anything. They're not indistinguishable from magic. But they're sort of delightful and they're very distinguishable from another boring microsite.

The point I'm groping towards is that as objects informationalise communication channels are getting built in. And there are ways of doing this that are mass, cheap and easy. Printing. Paper. Ink. RFID. And cleverer phones will be the perfect things to interact with these clever objects. This is what advertising and marketing and media people really need to get afeared by. All this web stuff is going to look like a picnic compared to the horrors that will be dealt to the agency and media businesses when every product has a communications channel built right in. And I suspect it's a channel that most brand-owners will feel a lot more comfortable with. Marketing/advertising was always a necessary evil for most businesses. And  Something bolted onto the culture. And they've never liked ITV. And having to do all this social networking stuff gives most of them the willies. But integrating communication and information into the product is something they can get behind quickly and easily.

I think. I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this but I think it's interesting. I think there's a whole model here that integrates the conversation into the stuff, creating a much more natural relationship between people and things, with much less mediation in the middle.

Anyway. We're all bored with this now. I'll finish it tomorrow when I'll get round to the last bit of the presentation and the EXCITEMENT of PAPER.

Posted via web from sophie's posterous