Monday, December 29, 2008

Making love in Supermarkets

I was pretty sure to get your attention with such a post title directly inspired by the book of Daniel Miller, A Theory of Shopping. Daniel Miller is an anthropologist specialised in material culture and consumption. 

How shoppers develop and imagine social relationships of love and care through the act of selecting goods is one of his thesis. He observed shoppers in the North London and discovered that shoppers do not buy what the others members of the family asked for but rather try to influence relatives habits, buying healthier food, better clothes (supposed to be) than they would expect. 

Housewives (80% of households food buyers are women) see her role as selecting goods which are intended to be educative or judged as morally superior (bio, better taste, ...). As Miller writes, "shopping is primarily an act of love that in its daily conscientiousness becomes one of the primary means by which relationships of love and care are constituted by practice". 

Shopping do not reflect love says Miller but is a form in which love is manifested and reproduced. Miller asses that each shopper is looking for thrift (value, sales, promotion, good deal, ...) and treat (extra product as a reward for the time and effort spend).

Well, that said, what are the implications for the retailer ?
Give value to the housewife shopper buying your product. She cares so you need to give her reassurance with product information,... explaining the benefits of your product. Never forget that each customer is looking for a personal treat, a direct reward to the shopper for carrying out the act of shopping. Is your assortment considering thrift and treat ?

This book is a recommendation from Luc Wise of V agency


Friday, December 26, 2008

Perception vs. reality

Ads are made to sell, ok we all agree on that. But where are the limits in doing so ? A representation too far from reality would not have the risk to disappoint the client and break the dream patiently constructed ?

Ads vs. reality website compares burgers ads vs. real product shot just after having bought the "meal".

Like the traditional ads "before" and "after" for plastic surgery, Pundo 3000 is a very funny and recommended site which purpose is to show the ad, the pack then the real product "ready to eat". They also have published a book of the project that can be found here

On top a nice example of perception vs. reality with the icon of Fast food : the Big Mac.

Monday, December 22, 2008

super size me !

I shot this photo in a mall in Las Vegas last year. Just impressed by the parachute size ! 

The effect of obesity is impressive in the US and Central America. In the 60's, the average man weighed 75 kg and the woman 63 kg. Women have actually reached 74 kg and men are now 87 kg in average.  In textile, most of the Caribbean and South American countries retailer supply their need in mega warehouses located in Colon a duty free city lost in the middle of nowhere. I met last year in Colon, Panama a textile supplier who told me that he recently had to triple the size of his showroom dedicated in XXL sizes due to the raising need. 

On the other way, you may find in Colombia the best sellers strings locally called "hilo dental" (aka "dental floss") vs. "mata passion" (or passion killer) represented with the bigger sizes. 

PS : the other photo was shot in Medellin at a Carrefour fashion show in Colombiamoda.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Beer temple

Amazing photos sent by Jean-Claude (alias Dadi), of a Gothic Beer cathedral.

Anyone knows where and who shot this ?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Great coincidence ... explained by probability !

Fifty People, One Question: New York from Crush & Lovely on Vimeo.

This morning, like every morning I dig into the dozens of newsletter received every day. I click on some hyperlinks just to get a short idea of what's going on. Intrigued by the site 50 people 1 question I was watching the video (relaxed by the great music of Louis Armstrong) when I nearly fall down from my chair.  Just one hour ago I was thinking, I should send a mail to Janet Borden. I met Janet just some weeks ago during the Paris Photo fair and we had great conversation.

Just there, on this video interviewing 50 anonymous people in the streets of NYC, I could watch Janet from Janet Borden Gallery

I love these coincidences, these striking events where randomness brings spice to life. Question is how possible it is ? Is it really luck, hazard ? How rare are these kind of events ?

Part of the answers of these questions may be found in the book of Amir D. Aczel, Chance, a guide to Gambling, Love, the Stock Market & just about everything else (what a great title, no ?). When you don't expect any kind of coincidence (I did not expect to see Janet), the aggregation of causes happens in so many possible ways that a coincidence becomes unavoidable. Aczel calculated the probability to have something in common with the stranger sitting next to you on an airplane is 1,5% (a coincidence is defined as two strangers knowing one person in common). 

I'm flying tomorrow to Madrid and will surely test the probability !

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Microtrends that reshapes the world

Microtrends by Mark Penn and Kinney Zalesne is a must read for all of us interested in how the world is changing, counterintuitive facts and consumer behavior. Penn and Zalesne have detected 75 "microtrends" through statistics analysis. A Microtrend is defined as "an identity group, that is growing, which has needs and wants unmet by the current companies, marketers, policymakers". 

These trends underline the fact that individuality is becoming the frame and model of how we're shaping our lives. As they write, we're moving from a Ford model (standard for everybody) to a Starbucks model where anyone can chose from an infinite combination of choices.

With 1% of the US population, a group can be named as a trend. What's interesting is the fast growth of these radical change in the society. We still have to determine the famous Tipping point as noted by Malcolm Gladwell when an idea, trend or social behavior gets a point of non return and spread of like wildfire.

Some of the relevant trends described in the book are (figures are to be considered for the US):

- Sex ratio singles or for the first time there are more single women than ever who do not look for marriage : 50 million when in the same time the Cougars (women dating younger men) are rising : 3 million couples where man is 6 years younger

- Commuter couples : 3,5 million couples living apart for reasons other than separation meanwhile you have the Extreme commuters who are traveling at least 90 minutes each way to go to work  (3,4M). In the same time you find 4,2M of people working at home !

- Interesting also the rise of Do It Yourself Doctor, people who research, diagnose and (try to) cure themselves with the use of internet. Perhaps the effect of the huge number of persons killed by Hospital errors (between 44 000 and 98 000 estimated it's more than car accidents or breasts cancer !) see Institute of Medecine. Alarming the fact that 30M of Americans are suffering from hearing loss (too much Ipod ?)

- Pets parents are 63% of US citizens, much more than children parents !

-  Over 7 M of people (1 on 31 adults) in in prison, jailed or under criminal court jurisdiction. It's 650 000 people released from jail every year (and 2/3 will be arrested again and half will be back in jail...). It makes 2M of children with a parent in prison.

- Anyone could have guessed that 1 adult on 4 have a tatoo (30M) and 1 over 3 aged 25-29 ?

- Most popular leisure in the US ? 
Basketball ? Football ? Golf ? 
Nope, just Internet pornography, watched by 40M people, more than 10 times the people watching baseball on TV.

Much more than stats, the authors are analysing the trends and the consequences on daily life. Written in a lively style, the book is much recommended to better understand what's going on !

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Que se passe t il sur le pouvoir d'achat ?

La Cité du commerce et de la Consommation a tenu ses débats la semaine dernière dans les locaux de l'ESCP EAP sur le theme Pouvoir d'achat et démocratie. Existe t il des risques liés à la sur-inflation ? Comment évolue la consommation dans un contexte de crise de pouvoir d'achat ? 

Voilà quelques questions auxquelles nous avons tenté de répondre lors d'un débat qui réunissait Jérôme Bédier (FCD), Jean-Paul Betbeze (Crédit Agricole), Olivier Desforges et votre serviteur. La video vient du blog d'Henri Kaufman qui n'a pas manqué une miette des débats (voir sur son blog les interventions de Pascal Bruckner ou encore celle du psychanalyste Serge Tisseron qui analysent dans leur domaine ce que consommer veut dire : consommer c'est exister ?).

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Vacuum cleaners in Arts

Since Jeff Koons and his Hoover Vacuum cleaners series (which can be seen at the Tate Modern in London or at the Whitney Museum in NYC), vacuum cleaners may have an artistic role. With the use of daily objects, Koons is questioning the aesthetic of mass consumption and the power of consumer industries. The most banal object is presented in his vitrine like a jewel case. 

Koons is obsessed with perfection and the vacuum are presented brand new, immaculate under neon lights like a star or holy relics. Isolated from the dirty world they are totally losing their first and main function. 

Visiting Venice last year, I was attracted by this strange shop, presenting old fashion vacuum cleaners also like pieces of art on their pedestals. Strange and unreal atmosphere. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Quote of the day from Joseph Heller

"he was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody"

Joseph Heller