Why aren’t Brick & Morter Space and Cyberspace the Same Space?

Ever since first browsing the aisles at Barnes and Noble to sample books that I was ordering from Amazon on my iPhone, I’ve wondered why retail hasn’t yet evolved from having an online presence that is separate from brick and mortar to having them sync’d together into one experience. It’s been a completely separate push from the constant work that’s done to optimize their brick and mortar locations. 

We all know that the Apple Store has done some remarkable things at retail, one of them being the ability to buy an item using your phone, pick it up and walk out the door without ever speaking to an employee. Which is great if you have the chutzpah required to actually do it … my guilty conscience would do unspeakable things to me if I ever tried.

Beyond Apple, however, it seems like retail has remained fairly stagnant and completely isolated from the Internet. Which is why I was interested to see that Neiman Marcus (of all places) is dipping it’s toes into the brick & mortar & digital waters with a mobile app that’s made to connect customers to sales associates, 24/7: 

Though online shopping has undergone multiple transformations over the past two decades, the same can not be said for brick-and-mortar retail. Shoppers are still brought in using approximately the same marketing tactics (think direct mail catalogs, window displays, seasonal sales). Product is still refreshed at the same rates and customers still line up and check out, with few exceptions, at cash registers.

Signature, a mobile app company that bills itself as the “ultimate personal shopping assistant,” is looking to reengineer the way consumers shop in stores — namely, the stores of upscale clothing retailers. The San Francisco-based startup has partnered with Neiman Marcus to develop a custom iPhone app to better facilitate communications between stores and customers.

The app, called NM Service, is currently being piloted at four Neiman Marcus locations: San Francisco, Calif.; Palo Alto, Calif.; Austin, Texas; and Neiman Marcus’s flagship store in Dallas, Texas.

It has two interfaces: one for shoppers and one for sales associates. Shoppers are able to able to browse event schedules, new arrivals and promotions. As they browse, they can favorite products and even arrange for them to be placed in a dressing room ahead of arrival, Signature CEO David Hegarty tells Mashable. They can also make appointments and leave messages for associates, and see which ones are on the floor. A built-in QR code reader lets them scan signage for trend and product information displayed in-store.

It’s a small step, but could signify the start of some very cool and very welcome changes to retail.

Also, my apologies for using the word “cyberspace” in the title of this post. 

(Via Mashable)

What brands can learn from the psychology of game nostalgia

Over on The Psychology of Video Games blog, Jamie Madigan lays out the case that nostalgia is tied to social connections, which makes gaming much more nostalgic than other media:

If nostalgia is tied so closely to social connections and a sense of community, games have the potential to evoke it more than any other medium, because they are so inherently social and are becoming more so every year. Early games might have been shared experiences on the couch or via playground discussions in much the same way as movies or TV, but the majority of new games coming out this year will feature mechanics or tools that encourage players to share, compete, communicate, help, and socialise. The same can’t be said of music, movies, TV, or other common vessels of nostalgia. It seems that games might someday boost more moods than anything else in history.

To me, this underscores the importance of brands learning how to serve as a node that brings people together in interesting ways, and it think misunderstanding this could be at the root of a lot of failed digital experiences. Of course, bad ideas are bad ideas, no matter how social they are intended to be.

Coca-Cola on the correlation between winning at Cannes and winning in the market place

I think the most audacious belief lingering around the marketing and advertising industry is that people’s enjoyment of the creative work doesn’t really … well … matter. It seems ridiculous to even write it, but there are huge amount of people out there who actually think this way. The proof lies on your TV. It’s there right now if you go and look. But be careful, it’s brutal. No one should have to endure the horrors that lay hiding within the nooks and crannies of our content.

Which is why I was so glad to read this piece from an executive at Coca-Cola who espouses the importance of creative success in achieving commercial results. I’ve posted a bit of it here, but the whole piece is well worth a read.

The Coca-Cola Company at Cannes 2012 » Why Winning At Cannes Is Good For Our Business:

“I have long been an absolute believer in the correlation between outstanding creative success and outstanding commercial success. In this year’s marketing platform for Cannes Lions I am quoted as saying ‘If Cannes has taught me one thing, it is that creativity drives effectiveness. You can not have one without the other. That knowledge has been instrumental to my career. I have been going to Cannes for nearly 20 years and can’t help but notice that the client organizations recognized as Advertiser of the Year often enjoy periods of historic financial success at the same time. Let’s take a brief look at a few of them.

  • Volkswagen: Recognized as Advertiser of the Year in 2008. The same year that its share price grew 89% to 283 Euros. This most prolific period of stock market growth coincides precisely with its most prolific period of creativity. While it’s share price may have risen, causing some to decide against investing due to the higher cost, fractional share investing solutions, like that of SoFi, allows people to invest in their favorite brands without committing to the cost of a whole share, so this could be a good method for those looking to put money into Volkswagen.
  • P&G: Recognized as Advertiser of the Year in 2007 when its share price hit an all time high of $74.67, beating the S&P 500 by a country mile.
  • Honda: In 2006 Honda was awarded Advertiser of the Year for brilliant work like Cog and Grrr. During this time its share price was as high as $38.50 and its UK sales were up 28%. Wow.
  • Playstation: Was awarded Advertiser of the Year in 2005. Now, Playstation is a sub-division of Sony so we cannot isolate its share price. However, what we can do is isolate its sales. During that year it became the worlds biggest selling gaming console selling a record 100 million units.
  • BMW: Took the mantle of Advertiser of the Year in 2004. So rightly deserved when you consider the lasting legacy of BMW films (still held up by most as the breakthrough work taking advertising into long form content). As a result of this work, which ultimately landed them the award, BMW saw a sales increase of 12% and a stock price rise of 16%. This is huge, especially when you consider the turbulent, post 9/11 period.
  • Nike: In 2003, the same year that Nike was awarded Advertiser of the Year, Phil Night, CEO and Founder, wrote ‘’We decided to cross the threshold of 9/11. Eight months later we delivered a 14% increase in earnings and beat the S&P 500 by 45 points. Advertiser of the year was a defining moment. A Nike moment.’
  • Swatch: From 1999 – 2001 the S&P 500 did not grow a cent but Swatch reported it steepest growth period on record.”

Clearly the correlation between winning at Cannes and winning in the market place is compelling. That’s one of many reasons why The Coca-Cola Company places a premium on creative excellence. It is simply makes sound business sense. The creative industries and client organizations are in a co-dependent relationship – we need each other. As Phil Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions, puts it: ‘‘The Advertiser of the Year award is presented to advertisers who have distinguished themselves for the inspiring, innovative marketing of their brands and who embrace and encourage the creative bravery of the creative work produced by their agencies.’’

(hat tip to John Gibson)