RETAIL TRENDS: Wal-Mart and Amazon Battle It Out

RETAIL TRENDS: Wal-Mart and Amazon Battle It Out

 

Here’s what’s going on at Amazon and what Wal-Mart is doing to fight back:

Amazon is #1 when it comes to apparel shopping by millennials! 18-34 year olds bought 17% of their clothes on Amazon, followed by Nordstrom, Old Navy and J. Crew.

  • Amazon’s apparel sales are projected to rise 30% this year to $28 billion, making it the largest clothing retailer in the U.S.
  • Last year Amazon launched seven private-label clothing brands plus they are working on an Amazon-owned line of $10 bras. Job listings also indicate Amazon is working on its own line of active-wear.

Amazon’s “Just Ask” takes shopping with Alexa to another level (Source: Richard Shapiro)

  • The ‘Just Ask’ feature offers daily promotions – but what makes it a real game changer is that Echo knows each Prime customer’s buying history, delivery address and payment preference which makes the whole thing seamless. The reverberations of this will be felt by every retailer and those that can’t make their shopping experiences as easy, will be left behind.

But don’t rule out Wal-Mart. The company is finally getting its act together when it comes to  e-commerce, innovation and fashion.

  • At the ShopTalk Conference in Las Vegas last week, Marc Lore, chief executive of Wal-Mart’s e-commerce operations (and founder of Jet.com which Wal-Mart purchased last year for $3 billion) announced the launch of a Silicon Valley-based innovation center to identify future trends in retail and commerce.
  • The standalone incubator, known as Store No. 8, will invest in and work with venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, early-stage startups and academics.
  • It will focus on robotics, augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Wal-Mart has been on an e-commerce shopping spree:

  • They just bought ModCloth, an e-commerce site specializing in vintage clothing.
  • In January, they bought Shoebuy, an apparel and accessories site to take on Amazon’s Zappos.
  • In February, they bought Moosejaw, a site selling apparel and footwear with an outdoor focus.
  • Hayneedle, a home furnishings and decor e-tailer is also part of Wal-Mart’s stable.

What the deals all have in common is they target more affluent shoppers e.g. Shoebuy sells suede boots for $750, Moosejaw sells Patagonia as well as apparel for yoga, biking, skiing and swimming.

Wal-Mart will keep the startups separate from the broader organization so that they will not affect the retailer’s bottom line in the near term.

Read on below for more breakthroughs in retail – including one of the best uses of influencer marketing that I’ve seen.

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Health Apps from J&J: Amazing Digital Innovation In Health Care

Health Apps from J&J: Amazing Digital Innovation In Health Care

 

Johnson & Johnson is working on 4 different apps that are so on the money when it comes to health issues from allergies to knee replacements. The pollen count app, in particular, sounds amazing.

The AllergyCast App

  • This app provides the pollen count each day for your zip code, along with an “allergy impact number.” Thanks to a proprietary algorithm, the app uses multiple factors—such as weather and social media mentions of allergies in your zip code—to give you an idea of how likely you are to have symptoms each day and helps you identify the optimal time to take your allergy medication before the onset of symptoms.

Read on for more below on apps for arthritis, glucose levels and knee surgeries.

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ALICE NEEL: Inspiring a new generation to take up portraiture

ALICE NEEL: Inspiring a new generation to take up portraiture

 

Excellent painting show at David Zwirner (525 West 19th Street, NYC) of Alice Neel’s portraits made over the five decades she lived uptown, first in Spanish Harlem (1938-1962) and then the Upper West Side (1962 until her death in 1984).

She’s known for her intimate portraits of family, friends, writers, activists, and other everyday people from her neighborhood.

The show is beautifully curated by Hilton Als (photo lower left), writer for The New Yorker. The New York Times called the show nostalgic. I disagree, it feels fresh, young and vibrant to me.

What struck me immediately upon entering the gallery was the crowd: it was really young.  Alice Neel’s work casts a mighty spell and these young artists and art lovers were hooked by her paintings – and her writing – many were poring over her diaries. Judging by how intently many were studying the color and form of her paintings, I expect Alice Neel to become a  major art world influencer for a new generation.

There’s also going to be a screening of the Alice Neel documentary on April 3. Check with Zwirner Gallery for info on tickets – although I hear they are sold out.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I predict this show will kick off a movement to small-scale portraiture – and especially to portraits that include a more diverse array of people. The scale of this work is perfect for artists today who are working in smaller studios and who are inspired to paint their friends and neighbors. Who knows it might also be the beginning of a new collector class who will want to buy small-scale portraits for their apartments.

More photos of the work below:

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RESTAURANT TRENDS: A Rough Year Ahead, A Few Bright Spots

RESTAURANT TRENDS: A Rough Year Ahead, A Few Bright Spots

We’re in a bit of a “restaurant recession” as the industry runs into many of the same problems that retail has been dealing with over the last several years i.e. less foot traffic (especially at lunch), bargain hunting, and way too many restaurants.

However, chefs and restaurateurs are an incredibly resourceful and creative lot so here are some of the ways they’re adjusting to the circumstances:

DELIVERIES FROM HIGH-END RESTAURANTS

If you can’t beat them, join them?

Over the last couple of months, a slew of top-notch restaurants e.g. Rebelle have joined Seamless. What would have been unimaginable in the past, is great news for GrubHub, the leader in the app-based delivery industry (and owner of Seamless). Their revenue grew 36% last year and I swear they get $100 a month just from me!

This shift is also evident in a recent study from Restaurant Business Online which shows more than a third of restaurant revenues now comes from takeout.

Read on below for more on new restaurant dayparts (a hit with millennials), wood-burning open ovens and the latest on food halls.

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TRAVEL TRENDS: Luxury On The Mind, Next Nat Geo Trip Coming Up

TRAVEL TRENDS: Luxury On The Mind, Next Nat Geo Trip Coming Up

 

Great study from Bain & Company on luxury consumers and how they are largely redirecting their spending towards personalized high end travel experiences:

Higher caliber private jet jaunts

  • This trend I know about firsthand – I’m leaving on my next NatGeo on a private jet trip on June 1st. Twenty-two days around the world. There is no better way to travel!
  • And I am not alone in loving this. People are growing accustomed to personalized experiences, and private planes are par for the course.
  • These elevated private jet trips are adding interesting integrations e.g. Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts offers gastro-driven Culinary Discoveries Private Jet Journeys.

Small group cultural immersions

  • Luxury travelers want exclusive, regionally-authentic itineraries that cater to small groups – some tour operators are seeing bookings up 50%.
  • This “connoisseurs of local culture” trend will boom in 2017 with an emphasis on rural communities and travelers interested in private guides that teach them about the traditional ways of life.
  • Food tourism has evolved with over a third of tourism spending devoted to food. Three fourths of both millennials and boomers are “food & cuisine driven travelers.”

Private villa travel surpassing leading resorts

  • According to luxury travel agent Sandy Webb who books elite vacations all over the world “private villa residences offering first class, one-of-a-kind services are ushering in an entirely new era of bespoke hospitality around the globe.”

Read on below for the cool ways you can use Google Maps to plan trips and for a recent study on how millennials are driving the growth of camping.

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Work Trends: Tips On How To Navigate Change

Work Trends: Tips On How To Navigate Change

Today, I’m going to share a huge frustration I’ve been grappling with over the last couple of years since I closed The Zandl Group and started my new endeavor, The Opinionator. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has gone through this experience – especially if you happen to be in your 50’s, or God forbid, your 60’s.

SO WHAT’S BEEN AGITATING ME?

The struggle to explain clearly what my new gig is – the disparity between how I view what I’ve been doing versus how the world perceives it, is a mile wide. Let me show you:

How I view what I am doing:

  • I’m doing a start up
  • It’s consistent with what I’m passionate about and my skill set i.e. trends, what’s new, what’s next
  • Indeed, because I am doing this without client constraints, my learning is richer and purer than any work I’ve done previously
  • If I get this right, it will provide an incredible platform positioning me as a high profile advisor to companies – and Speaker – particularly on trends and how to navigate change
  • I’m fortunate that I have the financial resources to build this start-up without having to compromise my vision

How others view what I am doing:

  • How does she monetize this thing?
  • Oh, it must be a hobby
  • Oh, she’s retired (eye roll)

I’m finally tackling this annoyance head on, and taking full responsibility for getting myself in this pickle by sending out mixed messages for so long. No wonder people around me have been confused about whether I’m in or out, working or not. Yikes!!

But as of last Sunday, I am back! I climbed out of my rat hole to have an incredibly productive meeting with David Rosenberg, one of my most creative and strategic pals. He not only helped me drill down on the problem, he clarified my branding and helped me to articulate a compelling message about what the Opinionator is all about. Thank you David– you are a genius!

Big thanks also to all my friends who have put up with my endless whining and finally got me focused. And to Brad, who doesn’t show up often on this blog, for encouraging me to consider new language when describing what I do. Who knew Brad was reading a book by renowned naturalist, Edward O. Wilson, famous for saying: “Changing conditions require new words.”

Read on below for what I’ve learned.

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Can Snapchat Snap Back? Never Say Never But Outlook Not Good

Can Snapchat Snap Back? Never Say Never But Outlook Not Good

I still haven’t given up on Snapchat – I use it as my personal broadcast platform and love following friends as well as business mavens like Mark Suster (his snapstorms are phenomenal), tech start ups (e.g. Brian Park above right) and even the NYPD!

Nevertheless, the prognosis is not good. Facebook is out to crush them and so far succeeding – with an inferior product – but with size on their side (1 billion users vs. 150M).

Snapchat is not giving up without a fight and remains the #1 social media platform for teens and college students (at least for now) – with many hitting it up 20 times a day.

There have been several small studies done to gauge the impact of Facebook/Instagram’s attacks on Snapchat. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Instagram Stories slowed Snapchat’s growth by 82% at the end of last year
  • Snapchat’s growth in 2017 is expected to come from users 45-54 years old (Source: eMarketer)
  • However, Snapchat is still teens’ primary means of communication, used more often than texting (Source: Susquehanna)
  • Snapchat Streaks are an important driver of engagement. The Streak is broken the day either user fails to send a snap to the other. Many open the app solely for the purpose of sending a Snap and keeping their Streaks alive.
  • Most skip Snap ads and could not recall any brands. However, they were able to recall sponsored Lenses & Geofilters and enjoy interacting with them.
  • Instagram is the second most popular social app among teens – perceived as a platform to showcase highlights from their lives vs. Snapchat which is viewed as a platform to share everyday moments with close friends. IG stories are viewed as a look inside influencers’ lives, but not as a way for them to share moments with friends.
  • Core Facebook is typically viewed as their parents’ social network
  • College students turn first to Snapchat (58%), then Instagram (27%), Facebook (13%) or LinkedIn (2%) (Source: LendEdu)

Now that Snap has IPO’d, Facebook is getting even more aggressive. Read on below for highlights of how Mark Zuckerberg is neutralizing them at every turn.

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Personal Branding: Authenticity Is The Name Of The Game

Personal Branding: Authenticity Is The Name Of The Game

Focus on Authenticity and Genuine Connections

Whether you are a company or an individual, like me, who has a small business – we are all looking to connect with customers, readers and followers who support us and want to know more about us. That’s why social media is so powerful in helping us to build our brands because it takes people behind-the-scenes of what we do and who we are – whether we have a whole team or we’re flying solo.

Over the last 2 years, I’ve been encouraged to take more risks and share more personal stories – especially about how I have navigated change in my own life. What I have found is that the more I reveal, the more relatable I become. I’ve also been emboldened to be more opinionated (of course!) and that likewise has raised my profile.

Another essential aspect of building your personal brand is to raise your reputation as an expert. One way to do that is to be a generous teacher, share with others what you’ve gone through, what has worked (or not). Oftentimes, people learn more from your failures than your successes.

Some excellent recent advice from Patrick Allmond:

Your brand is a reflection of your personality. Don’t fake it. Work on being completely yourself and totally transparent and your following will happen naturally.

Read on below for more on Authority Marketing and Digital Marketing.

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