Thought Starters provides me with a chance to review and highlight some of the more important or interesting research and opinions that I’ve read over the last week or so. This edition looks at why there’s so much noise being made about Pokémon Go, what is Complexion Reduction, the impact of Brexit and whether automation is going to put you out of a job among other things:
Salesforce is the market leader in CRM, so its announcement that its Android mobile app will only support Samsung and Nexus branded handsets is a sign that not everyone is prepared to go along with the fragmented Android landscape.
Unilever and Procter & Gamble are the giants that have dominated the FMCG sector. Whilst neither brands have been afraid of taking over competitors in the past, Ben Thompson suggests that Unilever’s takeover of the Dollar Shave Club represents something more fundamental:
AWS and Amazon itself, having both normalized e-commerce amongst consumers and incentivized the creation of fulfillment networks, made the creation of standalone e-commerce companies more viable than ever before. This meant that Dollar Shave Club, hosted on AWS servers, could neutralize P&G’s distribution advantage: on the Internet, shelf space is unlimited. More than that, an e-commerce model meant that Dollar Shave Club could not only be cheaper but also better: having your blades shipped to you automatically was a big advantage over going to the store.
That left advertising, and this is why this video is so seminal: for basically no money Dollar Shave Club reached 20 million people. Some number of those people became customers, and through responsive customer service and an ongoing focus on social media marketing, Dollar Shave Club created an army of brand ambassadors who did for free what P&G had to pay billions for on TV: tell people that their razors were worth buying for a whole lot less money than Gillette was charging.
The net result is that thanks to the Internet every P&G advantage, save inertia, was neutralized, leading to Dollar Shave Club capturing 15% of U.S. cartridge share last year.
Simply Measured’s survey of American marketers points to the challenges faced managing social media and also points to Faceboook as having the strongest ROI:
July the 17th was apparently World Emoji Day and the top tweeted emojis give an interesting (if rather nonsensical) window into national psyche of different countries:
Pokémon Go’s growth has been phenomenal going from nothing to the most popular mobile game in the US in the space of less than a month:
Whilst Pokémon Go got a headstart based on the popularity of the Pokémon franchise, it’s Niantic’s augmented reality technology blending the real and gaming world that got people really excited. Matthew Lynley explores the gameplay and monetisation that has made the game such a huge consumer and commercial success:
Niantic here does such a good job of creating just enough friction that, at the exact moment, it can capture an opportunity for monetization. Players don’t feel compelled to spend money, and instead they’re offered a delightful experience when they elect to spend money. Those eye-popping visuals continue, they keep throwing Pokéballs and they don’t have to wait to see some of the most powerful Pokémon game.
It’s also interesting to see how Pokémon Go is quickly emerging as a promotional opportunity for bricks and mortar businesses with this link further strengthened with Nintendo’s launch of sponsored locations:
The more salient point here is that no marketing channel is evergreen, but businesses that want to win have to keep one eye open for these big shifts-and they have to capitalize on them when it’s time. With Pokemon Go, businesses have an unprecedented opportunity to create strong emotional bonds with new customers, and for very little money.
Even if Pokemon Go isn’t as powerful a tool for driving sales six months or a year from now, the customers that you delight today are going to remember you tomorrow.
Michael Horton provides a look at what he’s describing as Complexion Reduction, pointing to how many traditional design cues are disappearing on mobile in the quest for a better user experience:
1. Bigger, bolder headlines
2. Simpler more universal icons
3. Extraction of color
Google commissioned SOASTA to look at how poor mobile site performance can significantly degrade user experience, providing a valuable reminder that publishers need to keep an eye on the speed dial:
Whilst much has been made of the inexorable rise of Amazon, British bookseller Waterstones has provided an interesting counterpoint providing an example of where bricks and mortar retailers can face off against the ecommerce giant. Stephen Heyman profiles James Daunt’s strategy which has seen local store managers taking great control enabling them to act more like a local book shop and less like a one size fits all franchise:
While Barnes & Noble devolves from a bookstore into a thing store, Waterstones, the biggest bookstore chain in Britain, is plotting an entirely different course. In 2011, the company—choked with debt and facing the same existential threat from Amazon and e-books as B&N—nearly declared bankruptcy. Today, however, Waterstones isn’t closing shops but opening a raft of them, both big-box (in suburban shopping centers) and pint-size (in train stations). It has accomplished a stunning turnaround under the leadership of its managing director, James Daunt, who just announced Waterstones’ first annual profit since the financial crisis. How he pulled that off is a long story, involving old-fashioned business cunning, the largesse of a mysterious Russian oligarch, and some unexpected faith in the instincts of his booksellers.
Amazon has been rightly lauded for its move from retailer to platform provider but that’s not to say it has gone without a hitch. There have been growing reports of third party sellers listing counterfeit goods on Amazon upsetting consumers and brands:
Now Amazon is filling up with counterfeits, a term that can mean several things:
* A near-identical (or identical) knock-off, sometimes even made in the same factory as the original goods, and sold out the back door
* Factory rejects that failed inspection
* Low-quality fakes that look like originals, but are made from inferior or defective materials or suffer from defective/shoddy manufacturing
The Brexit referendum now means that Britain’s exit from the European Union is now more than just a Nigel Farage’s pipe dream but the end goal is far from clear. Ian Dent’s report based on discussions with Dr. Holger P. Hestermeyer, Professor Anand Menon, and Dr James Strong is worth read if you want a closer look at the different options faced by Theresa May.
London’s economy has benefited hugely from being the financial capital of Europe as Ryan Avent details in his book Work, Power and Status in the Twenty-First Century quoted in Marginal Revolution. Given this, it’s no wonder that other European centres are keen to see London’s access to European financial markets curtailed:
London is the richest city in Europe. Real output per person is central London is nearly four times the average in the European Union, and nearly twice that Europe’s other large, rich metropolitan areas, such as Amsterdam and Paris. Strikingly, London is more than twice as rich as the next richest region within Britain. However one slices it, the city is an extraordinary economic outlier.
Whilst the coup in Turkey seems to have quickly passed, the impact on the country’s civil society are more wide reaching as Erdoğan pushes the country further away from the foundations of Atatürk, as James Palmer profiles:
Erdoğan’s populist authoritarianism threatens a frightening change in Turkey — a dictatorship with the barest veneer of democracy laid over it as cover, fueled by resentment and religious conviction, and drawing in elements from jihadists to intelligence officers to organized crime to shield itself and assault its enemies.
Will robots put you out of a job? McKinsey have analysed the impact that automation will have on different occupations, with more and more jobs impacted directly or indirectly:
The last 30 years has seen substantial gains in income for much of the world’s population, but the middle classes of the US and Western Europe haven’t fared nearly as well. I’d argue that these disparities in incomes between the developed and developing world would inevitably reduce over time as education levels improve and as technologies enable international collaboration. Unfortunately one of the side effects has has been the rise of populist politicians such as Donald Trump and Nigel Farage in the US and Europe:
The Brexit referendum has exposed a less tolerant side to British society. Pew Research Center figures enable a comparison between UK and other Western countries suggesting that it’s hardly an outlier:
Laurie Penny provides a thoughtful critique of the culture of wellness with its very individualistic view of the world providing a barrier to a more collective view of society:
The wellbeing ideology is a symptom of a broader political disease. The rigors of both work and worklessness, the colonization of every public space by private money, the precarity of daily living, and the growing impossibility of building any sort of community maroon each of us in our lonely struggle to survive. We are supposed to believe that we can only work to improve our lives on that same individual level. Chris Maisano concludes that while “the appeal of individualistic and therapeutic approaches to the problems of our time is not difficult to apprehend . . . it is only through the creation of solidarities that rebuild confidence in our collective capacity to change the world that their grip can be broken.”
The featured image is “Taste” or “В К У С” in Russian is the first big solo mural by Sergey Akramov in his hometown of Yekaterinburg, Russia for the Stenograffia Street Art Festival and published in StreetArtNews.