Archive for November 1, 2013

Connecting with CEO’s from IBM

November 1, 2013 Leave a comment

Connecting with CEO’s from IBM

Rethink Marketing

Put your marketing in context with the right message at the right time and place

Your customers are connected 24/7 through online, mobile and social. Their expectations of your brand rise every day. Is your business staying ahead of your connected customers, and putting marketing messages and offers into context by delivering highly personalized and relevant offers to drive sales and brand loyalty in the right channel, at the right time? We’ll show you how.

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25 U.S. counties that best survived the recession

November 1, 2013 Leave a comment

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By  | October 31, 2013, 1:10 PM PDT

 Ask someone to name a technology and information hub within the United States and they’ll probably say San Francisco, or more specifically Silicon Valley. But what about Madison County, Alabama or Dane County, Wisconsin?
Those counties and nearly two dozen more might not have the name recognition of San Francisco, but they all have share a common statistic: strong growth in tech and information sector over the past five years. And according to an analysis by the Progressive Policy Institute, technology and information job growth has had a direct impact on how quickly counties recovered from the recession.

Counties with a high number of new tech/information sector jobs—between 2007 and 2012 have enjoyed substantially faster growth in both overall private employment and non-tech jobs over the same period, PPI says in its analysis.

PPI developed a tech/info job index to measure the number of new tech and information jobs between 2007 and 2012, as a share of 2007 total private sector employment in that county. An index of 1 means that new tech/info jobs equals 1 percent of total private employment.

On average, the top 25 counties showed an average private sector job gain of 2.4 percent over the five-year time frame. PPI notes while that might not seem like much, the remaining areas had a decline of 3.5 percent. In other words, a vibrant tech/info sector made the difference between a local economy that had recovered by 2012, and one that was still in decline.

The upshot? Policies that encourage technology and information growth are more likely to boost the overall economy and innovation creates well-paying jobs.

Thumbnail photo of Madison, Wis.: Flickr user Ryan Tir

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U.S. fliers can soon use electronics for entire flights

November 1, 2013 Leave a comment
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By  | October 31, 2013, 10:19 AM PDT

It’s official: Soon you won’t be required to power down all your devices when you’re flying in the United States.The long-awaited, but expected, decision announced today by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration overturns aviation rules that require passengers to turn off all electronic devices on planes below 10,000 feet.

What does that mean for airline passengers in the U.S.? You’ll soon be able to use devices like tablets, e-readers, and smartphones during “all phases” of flights. Airlines could start rolling out the new in-flight policies by the end of the year.

What it doesn’t mean? You’ll still need to stow laptops during takeoff and landing. It also doesn’t mean you’ll be able to use cellular data to talk on the phone or use the Internet — you’re still stuck with the in-flight Wi-Fi.

Of course, it also doesn’t mean that every airline will choose to implement the new rules at the same time or at the same levels. Ultimately, it’s up to airlines to decide how broadly they want to allow the use of electronics on their flights and how fast they are able to complete a five-step process required by the FAA to prove their planes can handle the electronics emissions from devices used by passengers, according to the Wall Street Journal. So if it’s 2014 and you’re still being told to power down all electronics, that’s why.

My guess is that most airlines will eventually retrain their staff and revise their manuals — and everything else that goes into a change like this — to expand the use of personal electronics. No one wants to be known as the Luddite carrier. In fact, airlines are already clamoring to get the market advantage of being the first of offer gate-to-gate use of electronics.

The next step for more connected flights? Better in-flight Wi-Fi.

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Massive open online courses: the latest venue for crowdsourcing

November 1, 2013 Leave a comment
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By  | September 22, 2013, 1:17 PM PDT

Massive open online courses (MOOCs) are not only disrupting higher education, but also starting to reach into the corporate world as well. Some observers are suggesting that MOOCs are the next wellspring for innovation in the marketplace.

Collage by Joe McKendrick

In a new post at the Harvard Business Review’s blogsite, Zafrin Nurmohamed, Nabeel Gillani and Michael Lenox suggest that MOOCs — with their enormous high levels of participation by college-educated, working professionals — can be put to practical use solving real-world problems for the business community. Nurmohamed and Gillani, co-founders of Coursolve, a MOOC provider, recently teamed up with Lenox, a University of Virginia professor, to do just that.

Lenox’s six-week online course, Foundations of Business Strategy, had 90,000 students, of which a number were part of large organizations as well as entrepreneurs. The course’s final project involved engaging with a real-world business to perform a strategic analysis of its business operations, and about 100 organizations participated.

As a post-course survey revealed, six out of ten of the participating organizations say they would do it again, and they would welcome online student collaboration on very high-level problems. Engagements such as this is changing the dynamics of both education and corporate learning, the authors state:

“We need to rethink what constitutes ‘a student.’ Today’s students are astute, have work experiences, and in many cases, have already developed a set of core competencies. Moreover, students in MOOCs offer unique international perspectives that would be the envy of any business school classroom.”

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Halloween real-time store audits: The good, the bad, and the scary

November 1, 2013 Leave a comment
Retail Customer ExperienceOctober 31, 2013
Halloween real-time store audits: The good, the bad, and the scary

By Richard Mandeberg, CEO of GroundCntrl

According to the National Retail Federation, consumer spending on Halloween is predicted to reach $6.9 billion this year, an increase of more than 54 percent since 2005. Much of that spending will go directly to costume costs. The NRF estimates that trick-or-treaters and party-goers alike will spend more than $1 billion on children’s costumes and $1.22 billion on adult costumes this year. In a saturated market, competition for these dollars is stiff. Retail giants like Walmart and Target, and thousands of Halloween pop-up stores, are all battling for the eye of the consumer this season.

While some shoppers have been planning their Ron Burgundy costumes for weeks, more than a third of costume decisions are made in-store, as quick, impulse purchases. This week, real-time in-store data from GroundCntrl reveals that major retailers and pop-up stores differ a bit in their strategies for how to woo shoppers in the final moments before the holiday. Pop up stores, while carrying a full inventory of standard costumes at affordable prices, are definitely differentiating by attracting a consumer looking for a more individualized Halloween expression. The survey is not meant to be statistically representative of the entire U.S., but it does provide some insights into how different stores positioned Halloween this year.

GroundCntrl used its mobile data and analytics platform with on-the-ground researchers to monitor real-time product on shelf, with prices and photographs from retailers like Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, and Halloween pop-ups in order to identify early trends in shopper experience and behavior. Here’s what GroundCntrl found on the last shopping weekend (Oct. 26 & 27) of the season in four key cities: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Antonio.

Most promoted: Major retailers

Fueled by the success of Iron Man 3, The Avengers, Thor and other blockbusters, superhero costumes were widely promoted on end-caps and in-store signage across the major retailers from Target to Walmart this season. In fact, superhero costumes comprised 35 percent of the best-looking costume displays we saw.

Princesses topped the National Retail Federation’s list of most popular costumes this year, and came close to beating Justice Leaguers like Batman and Superman for the lion’s share of the promotional pie within stores. Fantasy costumes like princesses and pirates ranked second in popularity with a 27 percent ranking in the stores we visited. This marketing was fueled mostly by the Disney Princess category as parents and children alike scoured the aisles for Rapunzel, Ariel and “The Princess and the Frog”‘s Tiana.

Interestingly enough, neither superhero nor fantasy costumes were reserved for children’s sizes alone. Adult costumes also tapped into the popular categories with high frequency. If you thought your days of donning a cape and super-human muscles were over, major retailers gave you another chance this Halloween.

Most promoted: Halloween pop-up stores

According to IBIS World, there are more than 1,700 Halloween related pop-up stores nationwide — a 30 percent increase since the research firm started tracking in 2009.

This year Halloween pop-up stores diverged from major retailers in the range of costumes they promoted. The major difference between retailers and pop-ups was the focus pop-ups put on non-traditional costumes.

In terms of supply and promotion, superhero costumes only took 6 percent of the pie in pop-up stores when our researchers sought out costumes that were more creative or noteworthy. Possibly ceding that category to the big-box retailers, pop-up stores instead focused their attention for individuality on the strange, funny and niche. A full 38 percent of the most creative costumes in pop-up stores fell into the “Other” category, aiming to fill the long-tail needs of shoppers who wanted to step outside of the norm this season.

Costumes within the “other” category ranged significantly, but included: human bananas, rabbis, human breathalyzers, Angry Birds and more. Pop culture references and celebrities were not as prominent as one might expect in these stores, but could be found across their online counterparts. Nonetheless, the creative choices are easy for the consumer to find: a Banana Man at Walmart or an edgy Banana Flasher at a local pop up store.

Halloween costume pricing: Highs and lows

If you’ve got $1,800 lying around, you can find an exact replica of a Star Wars Storm Trooper costume online this year. If that seems a little excessive to you, the brick-and-mortar retailers can help you out. Only 14 percent of costumes in our retail audit were above the $50 mark. The lion’s share of costumes fell within a more reasonable $20 to $30 range, and 72 percent were $30 and under. This price-point reflects National Retail Federation research, which estimated that although overall spending on Halloween this year would be up, the average spend per costumes would remain fairly flat at around $27.

By the time the candy has all been collected and Halloween pop-ups have disappeared, more than 150 million Americans will have participated in Halloween activities. Because of its natural tie to pop culture and the holiday’s draw to creativity, Halloween will always be a moving target for retailers.

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Five Reasons the Fashion Industry is Greening its Act

November 1, 2013 Leave a comment


October 25, 2013 at 11:00 AM

clothing rack

As more and more businesses are embracing sustainability, we’re seeing the fashion industry work to green its act. Leading brands like Patagonia have encouraged sustainability for years, while designer Vivienne Westwood recently urged consumers during London Fashion week tobuy less. We’re even seeing celebrities making sustainable fashion statements on the red carpet (see: Green Carpet Challenge). When it comes to style, why should we focus on the environment? Here are five good reasons.

1. Producing cotton is toxic.
Consumers may prefer to buy cotton because it’s durable and might seem better for the environment than synthetic materials made from petroleum like polyester and nylon. But the way conventional cotton is grown makes it one of the most toxic materials. It’s one of the most popular natural fibers—textile mills consume 4.5 million bales of cotton yearly—and a quarter of the total worldwide pesticide use occurs in cotton farming. These pesticides have devastating effects on ecosystem biodiversity and contaminating water supplies; most of these chemicals have toxic properties that affect the farmers, other workers, families, and communities around cotton farms. Each year, the World Health Organization estimates that three million people are poisoned by pesticide use—and an estimated 25 million agricultural workers have an episode of pesticide poisoning per year. But that doesn’t mean avoiding cotton is necessary; just search for suppliers who sell organic and Fair Trade cotton. And you can learn more about sustainable cotton growing in California from Sustainable Cotton Project.

2. Dying processes introduce harmful chemicals into the environment.
In November 2012, Greenpeace International investigated the use of hazardous chemicals used in dyes and processes from fashion brands that included Armani, Levi’s, and Zara, and they discovered that 63 percent of the clothing items they tested showed high traces of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), and others had highly toxic phthalates and carcinogenic amines. (You can read the full report online.) These hazardous chemicals are typically used during the dyeing, printing, and finishing processes and leak into groundwater through factory runoff and the washing processes.

3. Wastewater pollution is increasing.
Water pollution is as much of an environmental problem as it is a health issue. Each year, approximately 3.4 million people die from water and sanitation-related causes. The toxic chemicals introduced into water by the textile industry make people sick and harm ecosystems, threatening to ruin our already diminishing resources. Last year, a report found that water pollution in China over the past few years has grown, with the textile industry responsible for pumping out 2.5 billion tons of wastewater per year.

4. Textile waste is crowding landfills.
One of the biggest environmental issues in the fashion industry involves waste. After an item of clothing is manufactured, shipped, stocked, purchased, and eventually worn out, it’s usually thrown in the trash. The average American trashes nearly 65 pounds of textiles every year—in 2011, this added up to 13.1 million tons of textile waste. Decomposing clothing releases methane, which has worse global warming potential than carbon dioxide. The dyes and chemicals in decomposing clothing leak into the soil and groundwater. This infographic includes more statistics illustrating the problems with trashing textiles.

5. Fast-fashion allows the issues to flourish.
Both manufacturers and consumers are responsible for the environmental damages that come from fashion. Fast-fashion— bringing style from the runway to store racks in an expedited speed—is made possible from manufacturers using overseas labor to make products quickly out of low-quality synthetic fabrics, then selling products at cheap prices in order to meet consumer demand for the newest trends. This demand makes clothing disposable: the consumer might wear an item of clothing only a few times before it wears out, then it’s thrown out, and it’s back to the rack to find something else that’s equally disposable.

So what can you do? As a consumer, it’s important to remember you have the ultimate control over what you choose to purchase. Until companies choose to manufacture their clothing more responsibly, you don’t have to support them. You can also try shopping at thrift stores, secondhand shops or vintage boutiques. Visit your local tailor or get out your needle and thread when a button pops off or a hem starts to unravel—and take a sewing class or check YouTube for tutorials on how to make more substantial fixes to your own clothing. Finally, donate your unwanted clothing to thrift shops or sell them to consignment shops, so you can do your own part in making fashion as sustainable as possible.

Clothing rack image from Shutterstock

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DWR &Columbia Sportswear on Challenges & Trends in Ecommerce

November 1, 2013 Leave a comment


October 31, 2013 – FeaturedVideo – no comments
There’s no blueprint for what the world is going to look like,” said Mark SimmonsVice President of Marketing and ECommerce at Design Within Reach, during a discussion at eTail East this year. According to Simmons, with all the innovation and change that’s happening at such a rapid pace in ecommerce, it’s tough to find the right talent to fill the evolving roles.

Simmons joined me and Mark DeruyterDirector, ECommerce MarketingColumbia Sportswear, to talk about the biggest marketing challenges today, as well as the most exciting parts about working in digital marketing and ecommerce today. Deruyter agreed with Simmons on the talent challenge, citing a recruiter friend who had told him that in researching ecommerce as a skill set via Linkedin, he’s seen the ecommerce skill set increase less than one percent in the past four years. In contrast, the ecommerce industry and available roles have increased about eight percent. “The skills out there are a huge challenge,” he said.

The two also talked to me about some trends and recent events in the industry, such as Amazon‘s Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post and what that means for content and commerce. And we couldn’t leave the eTail TV booth without talking about favorite places to travel, favorite cuisine and the best thing on TV (hint: Breaking Bad wasn’t over yet!)

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