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Wed, 18 Apr 2007 19:19:37 GMT

Is a Smile Just a Smile?

Is a Smile Just a Smile?
I've been re-reading Anontio Damasio's wondeAnontio Damasio's, when I came across an insightful story about context. Damasio tells the story of the smile. It seems the way you smile in a "staged" situation, like standing in front of a camera when the photographer says "cheese," activates one section of the brain while a smile created by a genuine experience turns on different section of the brain.

This example made me think about the lack of context that so much of market research contains. We've all heard the horror stories of focus groups. Damasio's smile story can perhaps explain why they don't work as well as other "in-context" methods, such as ethnogrophy. The problem is that "in-context" methods take more time. In my mind, the time is worth it when you're relying on the research to make important strategic decisions.

So many times I see people wanting to try and enter a new market and desperetely want to understand a culture, like surfing, wanting to immediately jump into exploring the way a product or marketing campaign might work or be perceived.

It's great to be excited about going out and getting the story, but without going slowly enough to understand the cultural context, things can go wrong very quickly. One of my favorite stories of such a case is one that I expereinced on the beach in Mexico.

I was getting out of the water after my morning surf session. That morning I was surfing with a friend who had been in the film industry for a long time. It was still early and the light was beautiful. We looked around and saw a photo shoot in progress. It seemed intriguing that such a thing was happening in our small fishing village.

There was a large group of folks including a couple of photographers, a make-up artist, an art director, the director, some assistants and several models. As we walked over and inquired what the photo shoot was for, a tattooed woman looked at us with disdain and said it was for the Buckle, a teen retailer in the U.S. for an instant it felt like we were in L.A.

It was obvious that the Buckle's creative team decided to be sure their photos were authentic - so they jetted the team off to Mexico to enjoy a little of this authenticity. As we watched, the photographer directed a male model jumping around with a surfboard in his hand. The photographer was yelling out "Rub the surfboard! Rub the surfboard!"

During the action, my buddy said, "Watch this." He quickly strolled over right behind the producer and said very quietly, "The surfboard's upside down." All of a sudden the producer started yelling, "Stop! Stop! The surfboard is upside down!" which sent everyone scrambling.

The creative team for the Buckle thought that they could prove an understanding of the culture by spending a ton of money on a Mexican surf experience. The problem was that the team didn't know anything about surfing. Obviously they thought surfing was cool, so it became the theme for that year's catalog. But they could have been way more authentic by really understanding the cultural context of surfing, driving to one of the amazing beaches in Southern California and hiring real surfers as models.

They would have saved Buckle a lot of money in the process - but missed a nice Mexican vacation on the client's dime.

Appreciating the context is all about understanding what activates the authentic smile that Damasio talks about. There is no way to really understand it besides doing the hard and in-context research upfront.

Posted by: John      Read more     Source

Wed, 18 Apr 2007 12:39:29 GMT

Microsoft Ladies Laptop Totes

Microsoft Ladies Laptop Totes

Maybe it's unreasonable to ask that a laptop bag meant for carrying a lot more than a laptop masquerade convincingly as a handbag, yet this is what I want, and I know I'm not the only one making this demand, as attempts are being made to create such bags, with varying degrees of success.

From the outside, it looks like an oversized purse, with a little zip pocket for keys, which means you can sometimes dispense with your handbag altogether and just carry this one bag. The Madison bag sells for $59.99 on, as part of a line of Microsoft Ladies Laptop Totes made by Samsill Corporation, and comes in the orange trim version shown here astan trim version.

Another laptop bag in this colleManhattan, which sells for $69.99, is a bit roomier and has great interior pockets to keep everything organized. This one would make a good carry-on bag because it's big enough to fit a laptop, magazines, a book, snacks, a bottle of water, and a sweater. See interior and exterior pictures after the jump.

Continue reading "Microsoft Ladies Laptop Totes"

Posted by Hoyun 

Posted by: Hoyun      Read more     Source

Tue, 17 Apr 2007 21:56:08 GMT

The Courage to Step Out

The Courage to Step Out
I love it when companies have the courage to step out of their category and bring inspiration from outside of their curreLa Sportiva, a footwear company known for climbing shoes, has done just that with two new Martini and the Mandala. Both shoes fit solidly in the climbing approach category with a sticky rubber outsole and a stiff midsole yet with skate shoe styling.

Most footwear companies in the outdoor industry get stuck doing mountain inspired designs. As the market has become younger many of these designs have been shunned for less effective but more stylish skate shoes. It takes courage to follow your customers by finding inspiration that is relevant to them and that may break from what is historically relevant for the brand.

It's evolve or die.

Posted by: John      Read more     Source

Tue, 17 Apr 2007 16:12:32 GMT

Here, Nau!

Here, Nau!
Nau opened their first store in Boulder on Tuesday. It's one thing to see clothes on a web site and quite another thing to get to touch and feel them. Nau's not only shifting the retail paradigm but also the outdoor clothing design paradigm. It's cool stuff.

Posted by: John      Read more     Source

Tue, 17 Apr 2007 11:18:47 GMT

World Warms Up to Barbies Magic

World Warms Up to Barbies Magic
Barbies popularity is on an upswing, but only outside America. This can be assessed from the earningsMattel Inc., released on Monday. Mattel Inc., based in El Segundo, California, owns toy bBarbie and Hot Wheels which have a fan following all over the world.

According to the earnings report, domestic sales of Barbie- classic fashion doll, have fallen domestically by 21 per cent in the first quarter. This drop has been in sharp contrast to previous four quarters when the demand had actually risen.

But Barbies fans there is no need to spill your tears, because outside the U.S., Barbie was, in fact, getting more popular. This was reflected in the overseas increase in sales, offsetting the domestic decline. The overseas increase in sales was so much that, overall, sales went up by 2 per cent in most recent quarter.

Reflecting on this Mattel Chairman and Chief Executive Robert A. Eckert said:

I want Barbie to grow every quarter, but we didn’t do that in the U.S. this quarter. While disappointed with shipments in the U.S., we’re encouraged by our international growth

The quarterly results of Mattel, on the whole, were disappointing, although it did manage to perform better in its sales, than what several analysts had expected. Its profits fell 60 per cent compared to year-ago-period. Revenue, meanwhile, climbed 19 per cent to $940.3 million, including a 3 per cent benefit from currency exchange rates, compared with $793.3 million in the year-ago period. Earnings per share fell by 5 cents per share from the 2006 period. Eckert, however, believes that the company is off to a good start this year.

Main reason behind fall in sales of Mattels flagship product is the failure of this years fantasy theme for the doll line, christened Fairytopia. It didnt do as well as some of the products rolled out in 2006.

The other units of Mattel had better fortunes and its Wheels unit posted a 15 per cent increase in worldwide gross sales, driven by growth in the Hot Wheels and Matchbox toy lines.
Demand for toys from the Disney/Pixar animated film “Cars” led Mattel’s entertainment-related toy business, which posted a sales increase of 59 per cent, including a 4 per cent benefit from currency rates.

Source: marketwatch

Posted by: Gagan      Read more     Source

Thu, 12 Apr 2007 23:32:39 GMT

20 spring fashion trends: part three

20 spring fashion trends: part three
With every season change I often feel sad and excited at the same time: I'm sorry to say goodbye to my favorite winter items, but after all the knee high rider boots, furry coats and tweed pants, I am soooo ready to step into some lighter apparel!

Read on and find out which IT items, colors, cuts and shapes the spring 2007 fashion dictates:

11. Bright as can be - Lime green, wild orange, neon pink and all other 'techno' colors are there for all the fashionistas to enjoy. Even if you're not so brave to put on a poison green mini-dress, have enough fashion sense not to wear khaki, and opt for bold red or darker green.

12. Graphic prints - Stripes, circles and other geometric shapes are going to spread over our blouses, tees and jackets. I wouldn't recommend pants embellished with stars for example, but there's no need to be shy when it comes to skirts.

13. See through - Maybe you've already nSandy Tote or any transparent, clear pvc bag clinging from fashionista arms. I still can'pvc shoes, a much better way to go would be see-through heels in my opinion. But, not only accessories will be hit with the transparent trend - I've already saw clear pvc trenches. Not all has to be drastic, a see-through blouse under a strict suit can work wonders.

14. Monotone - Dress from head to toe in one color. I know, this reminds you of times when we were young and our mothers insisted we wear red tights with red dresses. But, taking electric blue or loveliest lilac color and wrapping yourself in it will show off your impeccable knowledge of fashion trends.

15. Layering - Short sleeved tunics over fine long sleeved blouses, paired with a jacket, tees under corset like chemise, mini-dresses over leggings, see-through shirts over some more see-through and 'normal' apparel - you are right - layering is still in, and will become even more challenging with the start of warmer season.

Posted by: Ivy      Read more     Source

Thu, 05 Apr 2007 04:09:10 GMT

Jewelry Making Home Business

Jewelry Making Home Business
Organizing and maintaining a home business can be profitable: by doing away with expensive office rentals, long and tedious commutes, and hours spent on overtime, you can earn money and still have the chance to do the things that you love to do. A home business, moreover, can turn your hobbies and creative skills into moneymaking ventures. If you like designing accessories, playing around with colors, and mixing and matching baubles, bangles, and beads, then you may want to set up a jewelry-making home business.

There are many levels at which you, as designer, can operate. You can run your business out of your home by turning your garage, porch, or garden into a jewelry shop.

You can supply jewelry to department stores or shops in your neighborhood. You can advertise your wares on the Internet and accept credit card orders from interested customers. You can sell your jewelry directly to friends. Or you can put all these schemes together and create the beginnings of your own jewelry-making empire by selling direct, supplying, and having your creations delivered to as many people and establishments as possible.

Posted by: noel      Read more     Source

March 29, 2007, 10:21 PM CT

Selling customers the short end of the stick

Selling customers the short end of the stick
Groucho Marx famously said that he wouldn't want to join any club that would have someone like him as a member. But if you are on the outside of some deal that benefits another group more than you, would this make you more or less interested in the product?

For example, guess how female Victoria's Secret customers would react if they found out that male customers got better deals on the same items. How would plus-sized women react to a dress that is sold for less in smaller sizes?

As per research from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, the excluded consumers would be turned off and would be less likely to make a purchase.

But how would competitive swimmers react to a product claimed to improve speed if they knew the product is given away free to Olympic swimmers? How would vodka consumers react to superpremium Belvedere vodka if the company offered free tastings exclusively for bartenders?

In these examples, the consumer ends up wanting the product more, said Alison K. C. Lo, a recent doctoral graduate at the Fuqua School of Business. She and marketing professors John Lynch and Richard Staelin explain why in the article "How to Attract Customers by Giving Them the Short End of the Stick," reported in the February 2007 Journal of Marketing Research.........

Posted by: Trista      Read more         Source

March 25, 2007, 9:23 PM CT

TV's beauty makeovers

TV's beauty makeovers
From drooping eyelids and sagging breasts to cleft palates and stained teeth, the makeover experts on the ABC reality show Extreme Makeover have never met a physical imperfection they couldnt correct. But philosophy professor Cressida Heyes argues that, for all the beautification that takes place on the show, there are some ugly truths at its core.

The cosmetic surgery makeover show is relatively new to the TV landscape. Heyes, a University of Alberta professor who has published an analysis of Extreme Makeover in Feminist Media Studies, says viewers should be attuned to the values being promoted by these shows. Radical makeover programs like Extreme Makeover, The Swan and Ten Years Younger sell the idea that cosmetic surgery is not about vanity but about uncovering your authentic self. Heyes argues that they are actually working hard to enforce conformity to societys ideals regarding gender, age, class and race.........

Posted by: Trista      Read more         Source

March 19, 2007, 10:07 PM CT

Happy Digital Characters Sell Products Better

Happy Digital Characters Sell Products Better Happy “Baldi” face that also speaks in a happy manner is a better salesperson than a sad face speaking sadly, regardless of a product's product's emotional tone. Images courtesy of Dominic Massaro.
Even in the digital world, people respond to the expression of a computerized face.

New Ohio State University research suggests that the simulated emotions of digital characters on web sites might have a real impact on the potential customers that view and interact with them.

The study, appearing in the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, observed that digital characters might be better merchants if they act consistently happy, even if the products they're selling-such as novels-are heart-wrenchingly sad.

Li Gong , an assistant professor of communication who conducted the research, believes his study of digital characters is important for a number of applications, particularly electronic commerce, learning, and entertainment.

A number of Web sites feature digital human-like characters, also called avatars or agents. These digital humans can help put a face on Web sites that sell products. Eventhough the characters can "read" text with a certain emotion, such as happy or sad, they can't automatically detect emotion from sentence to sentence with today's technology. And that can affect how well they perform.

Gong's research suggests people are more influenced by happy characters.

Gong believes the work might also significantly impact the computer gaming industry, which uses countless computer characters. "People playing these games want characters to have emotion," he said. Gong believes the explanation for this desire is that "emotion is an indispensable element in human communication" and is becoming more essential as the use of digital characters grows.........

Posted by: Trista      Read more         Source

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