Friday, October 29

Family Game Night

Here's a concept that's been around for awhile, and I've been meaning to give it some creds.

Family Game Night. An idea created by Hasbro as a way to get people to play more games (and obviously buy more of their products). It's quite simple: pick one night a week where your family stays home together and plays a board game together.

Hasbro did a complete 360 marketing campaign complete with advertising, instore materials, website, public relations - an entire holistic plan including special promotions and incentives to host family game nights at home.

I love it. On trend with pop culture, brand focused, filled with consumer insights - everything you want in a successful marketing idea. And by all accounts, pretty successful. And although a few years old at this point, still relevant with consumer sentiment. We just don't have enough time to spend with our families, so we have to create moments together.

But this isn't new, so why am I bringing it up now?

Because on the reality show "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" they do family game nights. Now sometimes they play board games and sometimes they play real time poker - but as a family they get together every week and play (or so they say). They too are a busy family, but they create time to be together (I know it's sometimes in front of cameras, but it's really true)

I just think it's cool that the Hasbro concept is still alive on a pop culture sensation (perhaps even placed by the brand, who knows).

BTW, full disclosure, I was also reminded of it today because I was at a beauty event with Kim Kardashian. She's a beautiful woman and I'm a big fan. I love that she is so centered on her family, so much so that they've turned themselves into a marketing machine. Great respect for their marketing skills!

What's your experience? Jim

Thursday, October 28

Council of PR Firms

I attended the Council of PR Firm's Critical Issues Forum yesterday and I have to say it was pretty fantastic. The theme was all about integrated marketing, something near and dear to my (professional) heart.

There was a really well orchestrated panel discussion that captivated my attention, something that these types of things don't always do. The topic was "the new normal".

The economic crisis, backlash against our government, scandals at institutions near and far -- they all beg the question -- as a society have we permanently changed? Is our normal life completely gone and do we now need to live with "the new normal"?

The debate was lively, with opposing views although honestly not all that opposing. But it definitely got me thinking. I don't think it's about "the new normal" or "the old normal" or any kind of "normal." There's no such thing.

Sure, things have changed. No doubt about it. But I'm not sure there was really anything normal, ever. Was the economic boom "normal"? Were the rising property values we enjoyed "normal"? I remember when I bought my first house back in the late '80's, I lost my shirt. The market dropped like a stone, and then of course years later started to skyrocket again. Was that "normal"?

I think it's all a spectrum. Our lives, our economy, our pop culture all move along a spectrum of continual change. Sometimes we are winning, sometimes we are playing catch up. Right now, there's a lot more catch up than there is winning. But this too will change. "Normal" implies a steady state, a way of being, and I don't think that occurs as a permanent way of life. Things are in constant change, so how could there be a "normal"?

Change. Now that's "normal" - new and old.

What's your experience? Jim

Wednesday, October 27

Halloween Costumes

It's always fun to predict what this year's biggest Halloween costumes will be - so as you personally prepare for the big weekend, just like in marketing, it's important to know your competition!

What I find most fascinating is how much pop culture influences costume selections. Sure, there are the standard ghosts and goblins -- remember when the movie Scream created a wave of those scary masks? This year will are likely to see a lot of vampires as a result of the Twilight series.

For the kids, look for Toy Story and Iron Man characters, as well as a big influence from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland which may also spread into adult costumes of Alice and The Mad Hatter as well.

Predicted to be the biggest adult costume? Lady Gaga! Her influence on pop culture has been enormous, so it's easy to see how her many "creative" outfits will sneak their way into Halloween parties, for the girls and the guys!

Right behind Lady Gaga is the cast of Jersey Shore ... Snooki and The Situation. Can you believe it? When you realize their pop culture status, it's easy to see how bumpit wigs and fake abs will be all the rage this year.

Likely to be missing will be politicians. I think we are over it, so I don't expect to see a lot of Barack, Michelle, and Hillary - but I could be wrong here. Just seems dated at this point, IMO.

No matter what ends up being your creative inspiration, please do enjoy the holiday safely!

What's your experience? Jim.

Tuesday, October 26

Political Ads

Political ads ... I'm over them. I just have to say that as a citizen and a human being I feel like I am being bombarded with mixed messages and (quite frankly) lies. I feel like I am being talked down to, and I feel like my home and personal life are being invaded.

I don't really understand why we let it happen. Sure, free speech, I get that. But why we allow politicians to spend money that they've raised to basically just trash each other - I don't get it.

None of the advertising really sets anyone apart. I don't remember any of the executions and I certainly don't remember what any of the candidates stand for from watching the advertising.

As a marketer, I clearly see how the candidates could be doing so much better. Instead of spending so much effort trashing each other, why not develop a strong positioning for yourself? A reason for being on the ballot and communicate that! Do what the consumer goods do - tell us your benefit and how you will improve our lives. Market yourselves!

I don't get it, and I wish it would stop. It makes me not even want to vote, which I am sure defeats the purpose.

This is Jim Joseph and I approve this blog post.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, October 25

I Love My Hair

Sesame Street has long been promoting diversity, self-confidence, acceptance, and obviously education. The show is a crown jewel in our pop culture, and I doubt there's a one of us that doesn't have a Sesame Street memory from our childhood.

A new little segment ran a week or so ago that has caught on like wildfire - reposting on YouTube, Twitter mentions, and it even hit mainstream news.

"I Love My Hair"! A little African-American girl sings a little ditty about how much she loves her hair because she can do so many things with it. At first glance, it might seem silly and superficial, but the truth is that African American women stress out a lot about their hair. Especially little girls as they grow up. Society throws in their face that long flowing hair is what's beautiful and the cultural norm, and it's not easy for them to get that look. So it affects their self confidence and their perceptions of beauty.

This little video is so amazing because it's so simple. The writer created it after seeing how much his adopted little daughter struggled with her own hair. "I Love My Hair" is repeated over and over - and I couldn't get it out of my head all weekend! So simple, so cute, and evidently helping to make an impact on self-acceptance.

Watch it here.

Way to go Sesame Street. Still influencing after all these years!

What's your experience? Jim

Friday, October 22

1-800-CONTACTS at Walmart

The store within a store concept is not a new one. Just look at Ralph Lauren at any of the major department stores. That brand creates its own unique experience in a dedicated boutique within the four walls of another store experience, like Macy's or Bloomingdale's. It's a great model because the combination of the two brands brings benefits to both -- Macy's gets the allure of Ralph Lauren, and Ralph Lauren gets the store traffic and cross country exposure of Macy's.

There are tons of examples of the store within a store concept - can you name a few?
- Toys 'R Us at Albertson's
- Sephora at JCPenney
- Starbucks at Target
In these examples, the strong equity of the partner brand enhances the draw of the major retailer, and the big retailer provides added distribution and "doors" that the other brand may not have been able to achieve on its own. It's a win win, shall we say.

A relatively new one that I find interesting is 1-800-CONTACTS at Walmart.

Two "price brands", so there's a good equity match -- but it's the first brick and mortar play for 1-800-CONTACTS. Solid move for that brand because getting into Walmart is hitting the big leagues in terms of exposure and store traffic. They are getting consumers who would have never bought contacts online. Great move for Walmart too, though, since it enhances their image as the place to get everything you need at everyday low prices. Even your contacts.

Both get incremental revenue.

Love the store within a store concept - the more unique the better, as long as there is a great equity match. With 1-800-CONTACTS and Walmart, I do believe there is.

What's your experience? Jim

Thursday, October 21

Our Hudson Valley Experience

We have a very personal experience that we repeat every year as an annual tradition. It's become a great experience for us, something that we look forward to every year, and I'd love to share it with you.

Every October, we take a road trip up the Hudson Valley. For those of you not familiar with New York geography, the Hudson Valley is the string of small towns that dot the Hudson River, just north of New York City, along the eastern side of the river. Some towns are quite big, some small, some very rural, some getting a bit commercial. Each one a little bit different.

The Hudson Valley is beautiful, particularly as the weather gets cooler and the leaves start to change (although not this year - too warm!). We do some antique shopping, have lunch, and often visit a vintage estate or two from the Rockefeller or Vanderbilt families.

Our Hudson Valley journey has become a tradition for us. An experience that we look forward to every year, that is uniquely ours. And the best part is that we always have dinner at what has become my favorite restaurant in the world.

This restaurant is not in Paris or Rome or even Manhattan. It's in Rhinebeck, NY of all places and it's called Gigi Trattoria. The place is awesome. Can't even tell you why, it's just the total experience. The food is freshly prepared, the service is warm and attentive, the scene is buzzing with excitement, and they always seem to remember us from year to year.

The Gigi experience is completely ours and it is incredibly consistent not only from year to year and entree to entree, but also incredibly consistent with the Hudson Valley. It's hard to separate the two in our minds. Fresh local ingredients, wait staff from the local culinary school, locals who tell you all the hots spots to visit -- that kind of thing. The Hudson Valley has become a brand to us, adding value to our lives unlike any other experience. With Gigi's Trattoria at the center.

The key is to get your brand to give your consumers the same level of meaning!

What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, October 20

Scotch Fur Fighter

Just a quick little post on a new product that I think is so simple, yet so innovative. If you have a dog or a cat, you'll love this product. If you're a marketer, you'll love that Scotch/3M came out with yet another innovation - another simple innovation.

Scotch Fur Fighter. A little device that you run along your furniture (home or car) and it picks up embedded pet fur. The fur that a vacuum just couldn't seem to pick up, that just sits there no matter what you do to try to remove it. If you've got a pet, you know how great that is.

I just love that it comes from 3M - the folks that make post-it notes, removable masking tape, adhesive picture hooks, etc. They have done such a great job of creating simple little innovations that really help us in our day to day lives.

The matte finish wrapping tape is one of my personal favorites because you can't see it on top of the wrapping paper.

All sorts of products for the home and office that we can use and remove whenever we want. You gotta love it, as a consumer and as a marketer.

What's your experience? Jim

Tuesday, October 19

PDMA Conference

I attended the PDMA (Product Development & Management Association) conference yesterday, and spoke as part of a lab series on new product launches.

In my talk I spoke about how everyone on a launch team is a marketer, even if marketing isn't in your job title or job description. When we are putting together a plan for a new product launch, it's important that everything is in sync and aligned around our target consumers and how they live their lives. Everything: packaging, pricing, product attributes, distribution, retail, and yes the marketing messaging as well.

When we are in launch mode, we are all in marketing. And we should all be focused on serving consumer needs (rational benefit) and wants (emotional benefit), so that we can add value to them.

It was absolutely fascinating to compare and contrast the various launches across industries, to note the commonalities and the differences. From a NASA launch (talk about high risk) to the Olympics (did you know that they get completely get re-invented every time around) to American Idol (completely shortened the development cycle of a successful artist) to packaged soup (yes, even that can get pretty complex).

After an entire day of think tank sessions, I walked away with two nuggets:

One: as organizations, we tend to develop certain ways that we "launch". It becomes highly formulaic and predictable so the key is to break that cycle to produce innovation

Two: a key ingredient in every launch is managing the complexity and the risk. As a team, we need to understand the factors that add complexity and create back-up plans upfront should issues arise along the way.

New product launches are arguably the most exciting part of marketing. All the elements have to align on one single day, and have to seamlessly fit together to fulfill a market potential. The entire brand experience takes shape in that one moment, and the teamwork that goes into making that happen is just so rewarding.

If you'd like to read another recap of the conference, here's a great report via a Twitter friend, Chris Dolan.

What's your experience? Jim.

Monday, October 18

The Big C

One of the best new shows this television season isn't on one of the big networks, and it's not a reality show either. It's "The Big C" on Showtime, and it's wonderfully insightful.

The show centers around Cathy, who was just diagnosed with terminal cancer. Rather than just sit back and take it, see decides to change her life as a result. She gets out of her rut and starts to live life the way that she wants. On her terms, with her decisions.

It's brilliant.

For those of us in marketing, particularly with brands in the healthcare space, there is a lot to be learned by watching this show. If you cut through the Hollywood plot line and the intense character development, you'll see an insight that I have long believed to be true: that people who are dealing with disease states (terminal or otherwise), still have all the other parts of their lives to deal with as well. Cancer is not the only issue for them.

Even if you are dealing with cancer or diabetes or HIV, it's not like everything else stops. You still have to work, take care of your family, eat and exercise everyday, etc. You still have to live your life, albeit altered significantly.

The point here is that even with a disease like cancer, other emotions and needs still exist. So if we want to understand patients and how to add value to their lives, we need to understand them as people, total people, and examine all aspects of what they are going through. Help them deal with their total life. So while it's entertaining to watch Cathy take on this new attitude, it's also a window into how people cope with major setbacks in life and move forward.

"The Big C". It's a big winner.

What's your experience? Jim.

Friday, October 15

Halloween Candy

I had my fill yesterday, literally had my fill of Halloween candy! Milk Duds, Snickers, Kit Kat, Butterfinger - this is the only time of the year that I eat these little goobers, mostly because they are so terrifically bite size that I can't resist. And it's not really even Halloween yet.

I mean really, when else do you ever eat Milk Duds?

Evidently I am not alone. Halloween is the biggest sales season for candy, accounting for about 35% of the total category sales for the year. Just step into a grocery or drug store these days and you'll find that stat very easy to believe. BTW, Halloween is also one of the biggest alcohol consumption holidays as well (probably no surprise there either).

So what's the online chatter this Halloween? Snickers! Turns out that Snickers is the most talked about candy brand online. Hmmm. Most beloved? My personal favorite Butterfinger is generating the most positive sentiments. Folks just love their Butterfinger.

The most polarizing Halloween candy? The classic candy corn (I thought it was just for decoration anyway)!

Interesting stuff. If you'd like to read the little report showing the online "brand passion" index for Halloween candy this year, you can grab it here.

Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger.

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, October 14

POM Wonderful

It's been interesting to watch the development of the functional foods category, or nutriceuticals category as some people say. I've worked on a few brands in the space myself, and the merging of food and health is quite natural to me. Good food choices and a healthy state go hand in hand.

The tricky part is that because these functional foods have health benefits, they make health claims. Enter the FDA.

Over the past few years, there have been a number of brands under the scrutiny of the FDA for their health claims -- Cheerios is a great example with its claims about high cholesterol.

That was cereal, how about pomegranate juice? POM Wonderful is another brand currently in front of the FDA for its health claims. The FDA has warned them that all health claims need to be approved by their governing body, something normally reserved for prescription drugs.

Do I think that's a problem? As I stated in this article from DTC Perspectives and their new "MDPA Minute" ... no. As long as the rules are clear and equally applied, then all brands need to abide by them. If you are making a health claim, then you need data to support it. Of course, the deeper the claim, the more support you need. But that only seems fair.

These days, if you are going to say you're wonderful then you just have to prove it!

What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, October 13

Who Owns Your Brand?

As if we needed a reminder, but this week's drama with the Gap logo taught us all a very good lesson. We don't own our brand.

Now whether you think it was a well calculated social media stunt, a great use of market research, or simply an open mistake, the reversal of the Gap logo is an amazing illustration of the power of the consumer -- particularly the power of the consumer in social media.

Within hours of the release of the new logo last week, consumers were already rejecting it. There was even an app created and shared that made a mockery of it.

To Gap's credit, they responded immediately on Facebook by offering consumers a chance to submit logo designs. Then only days later, as the criticism mounted, management decided to revert back to the old logo. They say that they may revisit a refresh at some point, but they promise to do it very differently next time around. Probably by including their consumers.

We don't own our brands - our consumers do. Social media has put them in charge and given them a vehicle to amass their comments and strengthen their voice. And we had better listen!

The key here is to recognize that power and participate in it. Create an amazing brand experience that is shaped by your consumers, evolving with them as their needs change, and always adding value to their lives.

What's your experience? Jim.

Tuesday, October 12

Consumer Profiles

I know sometimes it doesn't feel like it, but as marketers we generally have a lot of data at our disposal. Lack of data isn't generally the problem. We tend to have piles of sales reports, focus group summaries, quant studies on new products -- you name it.

We have more data than I think we even realize.

The problem is not a lack of data, it's knowing what to do with it. The challenge is turning the data into something more actionable and usable, particularly when it comes to understanding our consumer.

The solution for me is to write a consumer profile. I talk quite a bit about the consumer profile in my book, and I even give a couple examples for a fictitious furniture brand. Consumer profiles are amazing because they can turn your data and your seemingly disjointed knowledge of your consumer into something real and concrete.

What's a consumer profile? It's simply a story about your consumer and her life. It's a story that where you weave the data points about her into a complete picture. It's a couple pages of written prose describing your consumer and her family, based on all the data you have compiled. It talks about how she spends her day, what she struggles with, and what she's concerned about. The consumer profile also includes tidbits of pop culture - like what entertainment she enjoys and how she spends time on the internet.

It's important to make your consumer profiles real - so give her a name and even a picture so that the whole exercise becomes tangible. You'll find yourself using your consumer profile a lot, as you evaluate new marketing programs and think through what will engage her.

Nate Riggs, social media extraordinaire, interviewed me on this very topic at a recent American Marketing Association conference. You can catch it here if you'd like.

What's your experience? Jim

Monday, October 11

That Marketing Show

I recently did an interview on "That Marketing Show", which is an internet radio program about marketing. It was great fun to talk to a fellow marketer and independent agency owner about branding and marketing and the consumer experience. Great fun. Thought I would post it here if you have the time and inclination to listen in.

Hope all is well on this sunny Columbus Day! Jim.

Friday, October 8

New Gap Logo

It's been quite a week for logos. First it was the new merged logo for United/Continental, and now Gap.

Seemingly out of the blue, Gap (as in the retail store) suddenly changed its logo, but apparently only on its website as a start although I'm sure there is a roll-out plan waiting to be seen. Or is there?

The new logo was not well received, to say the least.

It's hard changing your logo, particularly one that is so iconic and well recognized. We've been living with the blue box and bold type for twenty years! I give the brand credit for trying - the retailer has been suffering and they are using every tool in the toolbox to reignite the brand. Freshening up a logo is certainly an option.

The interesting part, and the most admirable, is that the company is listening to the feedback. On their Facebook page, they explained the rationale behind wanting a new logo, acknowledged the feedback that they've been getting, and invited people to submit new designs.

No promises for yet another redesign, but certainly a valiant attempt to listen to customers and to create a dialogue with the consuming public.

Maybe it was planned that way all along, or maybe their just staying on top of the buzz -- either way it will be fascinating to see how it all plays out.

What's your experience? Jim.

Thursday, October 7

Sun Chips Disposes Its Bag

Back in the Spring, I wrote about how SunChips (a Frito Lay brand) was introducing the first biodegradable/compostable chip bag. Quite an innovation and something that the brand communicated loud and clear across multiple marketing channels. I thought it was pretty smart.

Well they are now pulling the bag off the market ... because it's too loud!! Can you believe it! Too loud!

I guess noise pollution trumps land pollution.

There's even a Facebook page with over 48,000 "likes" called "Sorry I Can't Hear You Over This SunChips Bag."

My first reaction was "C'Mon People!" We're talking planet earth here, and you're worried about a little noise. But as I think about it rationally, it makes sense, when you think about how consumer behavior rules over product design and packaging ingredients. When we snack, we don't necessarily want others to know about it. We're often in quiet places or in areas where we may annoy others.

'Tis true that this feels like convenience is more important than the environment, and that bothers me. But this is a good example of an innovation is only good if it fits into people's lives. Loud snacking apparently doesn't work. And from what I understand, the bag is pretty loud.

Someone even measured the noise level at 95 decibels - compared to a phone ringing which is 80, heavy traffic which is 85, and a lawn mower or passing subway train which is 90. I find this so hard to believe, but I guess it's true. That's pretty loud!

The silver lining is that there are now other biodegradable chip bag versions out there, so I don't think we've seen the end of this trail. Happy (quiet) snacking!

What's your experience? Jim.

Wednesday, October 6

Merging United and Continental

This week the first plane took off from the now merged United and Continental airlines, making this new airline the largest one in the world. It's been interesting to watch the ups and downs of the airline industry. The start-ups, the failures, the mergers, and the eventual erosion of customer service. It's just no longer fun to fly, but that's another story. Witnessing the coming together of these two giant brand names is another chapter in marketing history.

These are giant mega-brands that have policies and frequent flyer programs and infrastructures that now have to be merged. They also have iconic logos that have to be dealt with. What's a combined brand to do?

There's no perfect answer -- but it looks like the two brands are simply sliding together. The name will be United Airlines, but the logo will look more like Continental. Hmmmm, I'm honestly just not sure. I think I would have preferred to see something more interesting, more evolutionary, perhaps even more innovative -- a fresher approach to a revised brand name and identity. But that's just me.

The funny thing about brand names and logos is that they always seem a little awkward at first, until we get used to them. The more we see them in the marketplace, then the more we get comfortable and then suddenly they lose their awkwardness. They get familiar and start to mean something to us.

Good examples are Tylenol, Verizon, Banana Republic -- brands who at first seemed hard to digest but overtime have come to have meaning and now their name/logo fit comfortably in our lives.

I'm sure the same will eventually become true of the United/Continental merger and logo.

What's your experience? Jim.

Tuesday, October 5

J.Crew Men's Shop

Oh no, not another post about J.Crew! I know, I'm a bit obsessed. Not necessarily because I'm a consumer of J.Crew, more because I'm an admirer of the marketing.

J.Crew has it down, they have their game ON, particularly this season, particularly for men. The brand has been constantly improving, and always with an eye on the brand experience be it in-store, on the website, or via a catalogue. Every season they refresh, and this current Fall season brings new looks, new merchandising, new store organization, and and even some partner brands.

But it wasn't always that way for the brand which has seen its share of hard times. Here my friend and colleague Andy Levy reports in again on our mutual admiration for J.Crew, with a focus on its men's line.

What's your experience, Andy? Jim.

J.Crew has always been on my radar, 1) since I have had a history in retail women’s clothing in the 80s and early 90s, and 2) because I have seen a real transformation since Frank Muytjens has taken over as new men’s-wear design chief in 2008. It has also been a subject of Jim’s book "The Experience Effect" and the subject of my last guest post on Jim’s blog September 1st.

J.Crew has come a very long way since its roots as Popular Merchandise back in the late 40s. In the 80s the owners of the company saw the growth of catalogue retailers like Lands’ End and L.L.Bean make a killing. Popular Merchandise wanted to replicate that success with leisurewear similar to Ralph Lauren, but for a lower priced market. In January 1983 the J.Crew catalogue was born.

The enterprising new retail catalogue separated itself by showing models in casual settings and focusing on how garments draped on models with close-ups of fabrics to exemplify the textile quality. Throughout the mid 80s J.Crew saw a jump in sales from $3 million to over $100 million! By the late 80s when the catalogue business was seeing a big drop in revenues the company decided to expand into retail.

In 1989 the first retail store was opened at the South Street Seaport in NYC and like the real-life cartoon characters of Disney, J.Crew came off the pages into the real world. The retail climate in the 90s saw many hot and cold cycles and by the middle of the decade an increase of postal and paper costs curtailed catalogue distribution and lead to a push for even further retail chain growth.

Management turmoil caused J. Crew to languish in the late 90s and into the early 21st Century, and that's when Frank Muytjens came on board along with other members of the design and management team.

Working several seasons in advance, the crew started to transform the label, turning it from just casual clothing to an entire range of men's wear -- you can now pick up items that span from casual to near formal, along with a bunch of accessories for work and play. But all with the quintessential J.Crew feel.

With the opening of concept shop Liquor Store and even more dedicated locations designed specifically for men, J.Crew entered the world of form-fitted tailoring, setting it apart from its competition, and certainly worlds apart from Lands End.

Just this past year, in a seismic change, the retail stores decided to carry “third party brands” to make the brand experience even more well-rounded with complementary offerings. The line has never seen better days, and it is such a pleasure to shop, regardless of the channel.

At a time when fashion and retail are still suffering, here's a brand with an experience that continues to deliver. It's not easy to entice men with fashion, and J.Crew has done a bang up job throughout its transformation. Congratulations.

- Andy Levy

Monday, October 4

Life In Little Bites

Time starved. Multi-tasking. Stressed out. Task oriented. Over scheduled.

Just a few phrases to describe life as we know it. Even with the advent of technology, we seem to still be trying to do more with less -- less time that is. So something has to give.

For me, it's the extra time in my day that I used to squeeze things in for myself. There used to be times that I could count on to get the things done that I wanted to get done. Like an early am workout or 12:30 lunch or that few minutes before bed. Even those times have a "to do" list attached to them. It's getting crazy.

If you're feeling this way too, then you need to read this little article that appeared in The Boston Globe over the weekend. It's all about how we are now consuming life in little bits, as witnessed by the popularity of 100-calorie treats. These prepackaged, consumable snacks are a symbol of how we are living our lives: in small doses, running place to place, with small increments of pleasure here and there. It's not about weight loss at all, it's about being time starved and wishing for little indulgements whenever we can get them.

Food as a symbol for our pop culture and life style? Sure, why not!

You can read the article here. If you at all relate, then join in the conversation!

What's your experience? Jim

Friday, October 1

HBA Expo

Yesterday I spoke at the HBA Expo, a conference for Health and Beauty Aids industry professionals (hair care, skin care, makeup, etc). I was on a panel with two other speakers and we each gave a presentation and then we answered questions from the audience.

The theme was consumer loyalty, so I spoke about how building a compelling brand experience can in fact generate the ultimate in loyalty. Hope I'm not sounding like a broken record, but I think it's true. The more meaningful and consistent the experience, the more consumers will come back for me. And tell their friends.

I've been to a bunch of conferences, but I have to say that this one was very different. My two panel members were die hard makeup people. Die hards. Eve Pearl was one of them -- she is the makeup artist for The Today Show, The View, and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Quite a character. She filmed the whole presentation so I'll post that when she puts it on YouTube. I felt like I needed some blush.

Right before my session there was another great panel with my new friend and colleague Alisa Beyer who spoke about "what women want." I wouldn't even dare to be on that panel, but it was data rich and pretty enlightening. I felt like I needed a push up.

The HBA Expo was a beauty extravaganza. More lip gloss than you can possibly imagine, but also an highly successful group of big brand experts and industry entrepreneurs who have made very successful careers. It was fascinating to meet so many of them. I felt like I needed a caffeine jolt!

What's your experience? Jim.