Really Failing Hurts So Bad But It’s The Best Teacher

Really Failing Hurts So Bad But It’s The Best Teacher

Lately I’ve seen so many feel-good quotes about how failure is just a stepping-stone to success and how we all have to be willing to fail faster and more often.

hogwash

The few times I’ve REALLY failed, have been so soul-crushingly horrible that I’m still scarred. Each took me months to recover from let alone start to learn what went wrong and what I need to change so as to never repeat that same mistake. That said, a painful and in-depth analysis of what I did wrong in each of those circumstances was crucial to success the next time around.

Bill Gates said it best.

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”

Bill Gates
And there were definitely lessons to be learned

For me, and perhaps for others, the biggest failures came early in my career. That’s when youthful success combined with hubris led to overconfidence and a lack of preparedness. A volatile mix that leads to disaster.

Read on below for 3 of the biggest mistakes I made as a young start-up.
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What Kind Of Shopper Are You? I’m In The Researcher Group.

What Kind Of Shopper Are You? I’m In The Researcher Group.

The new Shopper DNA Data from Kantar Group is terrific. Their five Shopper Profiles are absolutely spot.-on as is their takedown of Influencers who they see as nothing more than a waste of time and money.

“Marketers live in a kind of bubble these days, hearing echoes from other brands about how important it is to think experientially. Half of all consumers don’t care about that. Shopping is a chore, and they just want to make purchases as efficiently as possible.”

Casey Ferrell, VP Kantar
Kantar’s five Shopper Profiles
1. Utilitarians are the largest group at 36% of consumers
  • They want to get their shopping done as quickly as they can.
  • The majority of this segment is made up of boomers, followed closely by millennials and Gen X.
  • They make less money. A third of this group generates a household income of less than $50,000 a year.
  • Two-thirds are non-Hispanic whites.
  • They’re not looking for novelty. They value repetition and consistency.
Scroll down for groups 2-5.
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It’s Singles Day, The Most Ginormous Shopping Day Of The Year

It’s Singles Day, The Most Ginormous Shopping Day Of The Year

11/11 is a Chinese shopping holiday created in 2009 by Alibaba to celebrate singles (get it? all those ones?). Singles Day is one of the very first things I wrote about when I started this blog in 2014. It was major that Alibaba racked up $9 billion in sales on that one day. This year, they anticipate sales will hit $37 billion. And it looks like they’re right on track.

“Within the first hour, Alibaba’s shopping blitz hit 91.2 billion yuan ($13 billion), up 32% from last year’s early haul.”

CNBC + Reuters, 11/11/19
the 2019 Singles Day is the biggest one yet – and increasingly international.
  • More than 200,000 brands are participating, offering a million new products. 22,000 of those brands are international, from 78 different countries.
  • 500 million people are expected to participate – 100 million more than last year.
  • Taylor Swift performed on the eve of Singles Day (and her newest album sold better in China than the U.S.).
  • Kim Kardashian introduced her new fragrance (KKW) via live stream last week.
  • Live streaming is huge on Chinese e-commerce sites with celebrities selling directly to their followers.
  • Jewelry and apparel are the most popular product categories from American retailers.
  • People are buying cars online. Alibaba sold 55 cars in just 1 second last year. No wonder international auto brands are taking part in this year’s Singles Day event.
  • Travel is another hot category for Alibaba. They’re offering packages to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
  • Disney is also offering discounted tickets to its theme park in Shanghai.
The only surprise? Why hasn’t Singles Day caught on in the States? It’s certainly on-trend:
  • More of us are single (or “self-partnered”) than married. Thank you, Emma Watson, for that jazzy new nomenclature.
  • We’re doing more of our shopping online.
  • And finally, international brands are more popular than ever (despite the best efforts of some politicians to derail globalization)
Bottom Line.

It will be interesting to see how today’s sales stack up to previous years. Alibaba has indicated that sales momentum is slowing but still growing in the low double digits.

And I cannot wait to hear about this from my friend EM who is currently living in China!! EM – I’m expecting plenty of color commentary about your first Singles Day when you send us your weekly update😍.

Links here (2014) and here (2017) to posts I’ve written about past Singles Days.

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Three New Holiday Pop-Ups: One Is Absolutely Fabulous!

Three New Holiday Pop-Ups: One Is Absolutely Fabulous!

I checked out three brand new retail pop-ups yesterday, literally as they were opening their doors for the first time. My nose for the new did not disappoint. Two of them will be open thru the end of the year. One is open only thru the weekend.

Let’s start with the biggest WOW.
Beams Concept Store 007 at Nordstrom (and at Fred Segal LA)

Until about a week ago I had never even heard of Beams. And now, as of yesterday, I’m crazy about everything this buzzy Japanese brand is doing. And even though they’re only carrying the men’s collection, I expect women will buy it in droves. It was hard to restrain myself from buying at least 5 items. It’s a genderless brand.

Observations:
  • Beams’ decision to collaborate with iconic but a bit over-the-hill American brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren and New Balance is a brilliant move. From what I saw, Beams has the juice to reinvigorate those brands. Seeing Ralph in this context made it look relevant for the first time in decades.
  • Beams’ art-influenced tees and hoodies with their funny wordsmithing feels very fresh, e.g., the F-LAGSTUF-F line invites us to “Enjoy Japanese Subculture” that they specify is “Not for children under 19 years.” But for “Ages 20 and up.”
  • The staff at the concept store is outstanding. Stylish, friendly, and knowledgeable. Special shout out to Kayla and the rest of the fab crew who helped me out.
  • Customers, likewise, totally awesome and fashion-forward!
  • And finally, the pop-up itself is very cool. And it’s location is perfect, right as you enter the Men’s Store near the Milk Bar. It immediately establishes the vibe for the whole store.
Scroll down for more photos from Beams as well as info on two other pop-ups that launched yesterday (November 7th).
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Grammarly Fail: Unusable With New WordPress Update

Grammarly Fail: Unusable With New WordPress Update

I’m a premium user and have touted the benefits of this app to my readers since May. No longer! As of October when I updated to the newest version of WordPress (Gutenberg), Grammarly stopped working. But it’s their response to the problem that I found most egregious.

Please rest assured our technical team is already aware of the problem you reported, but unfortunately, we don’t currently have a quick fix. I can’t provide you with an estimated timeframe because the developers need some time to analyze the cause of the issue, but please rest assured that we won’t forget about it.

Tiffany, Grammarly Support
This lame-ass response raises 3 major issues
  1. The Gutenberg update for WordPress was launched on December 18, 2018. While it took me 9 months to switch to the new version, it’s beyond me why Grammarly claims to have just discovered there was a problem. They’re the pros. How can they say, after 10 months, that their developers “need time to analyze the cause of the issue”?
  2. If you can’t deliver the service, don’t charge for it until you’re back up and running. They have 7 million active daily users. Many of us undoubtedly have pre-paid annual subscriptions. And many of us are WordPress users. We are being ripped off. Issue a credit to all the users that you’ve stiffed with theft of service!
  3. The work-around they proposed takes us back to the dark ages. What they suggested I do is revert to the “Classic” version of WordPress. Classic is no longer even supported by WordPress. How can they go on record with an idea that sucks so bad? It’s like suggesting we abandon electricity for candles. Beyond disappointing.

One other scammy thing I found. Grammarly is one of those apps that doesn’t give you the option to opt-out of renewing automatically. Why am I not surprised?

WEIRD UPDATE: As I finished writing this post yesterday, I got an email from Tiffany at Grammarly to say they had checked my subscription and if I wanted to cancel, they’d be happy to accommodate me – and provide a partial refund. But here’s the weird part. They sent me the email just after I wrote this post but before it was published! And they had “closed my case” a few days ago. Weird coincidence or are they spying on us also?

Bottom Line.

Grammarly fired me. The lesson for users: do not become too problematic or demanding otherwise they will kick you to the curb!

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Have You Heard Of The Amazon “Returns” Hustle?

Have You Heard Of The Amazon “Returns” Hustle?

I’ve written several times about “reverse supply chain” problems, i.e., companies having to deal with the waste and environmental impact of the billions of things we buy only to return.

A friend told me she knew people who were buying Amazon pallets of returned items for $300 in the hopes of reselling them through eBay for up to $5,000. As it turns out, they’re most likely not buying directly from Amazon. The pallet might be filled with things in Amazon boxes but it’s coming from a liquidator.

I had never heard of these liquidation pallet schemes so I did some research only to find that there’s an entire sub-genre of YouTubers who specialize in unboxing videos of their liquidation goodies:

  • Tucker Upper got 375K views unboxing his first-ever liquidation pallet.
  • FranchiseKicks paid $286 for $2,212 of MYSTERY Electronics + Amazon Customer Returns Pallet. He has great advice about picking stuff up in person to save on shipping costs. He also shares the downside – lots of busted returns in his reseller’s box.
  • Randomfrankp got 7.6 million views for unpacking an Amazon returns box of “Mystery Tech” for which he paid $250.

And it’s not just from Amazon. There are videos showing “mystery” merchandise from Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Lowe’s and Walmart.

Per the Atlantic, YouTube videos appear to have driven a noticeable spike of interest in anything related to “liquidation.”

Scroll down for more pros and cons.
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The American Dream Mall Is Shaping Up To Be A Disaster!

The American Dream Mall Is Shaping Up To Be A Disaster!

Full disclosure: I haven’t actually made it out to NJ to check out the parts of the mall that are currently open. First, because I don’t like theme park rides (and that’s the only thing that’s open) and second, I haven’t figured out the bus, ferry and train routes to get there. From what I’ve read, it could take hours to get there so EVERYTHING had better be up and running for me to make the trek.

So why does this mall strike me as such a disaster?
  1. Everything screams money pit. Given the complexity of the attractions, it will be challenging to maintain them in good working order. Here’s a small sampling of what’s being built: Massive year-round indoor ski slope✅ Skating rink ✅ Water Park ✅ Theme Park Rides ✅ Aquarium ✅ And we all know that if any of these attractions go down for any period of time, or if they attempt to cut corners to save money, the word of mouth will be disastrous and people will stop coming – especially when they have paid $25 to park, plus $40-$50 per person for entry just to the Nickelodeon Universe. If you hit up multiple attractions, that’s a bigger hit to the wallet. And just this morning it was announced that as of November 15, the Nickelodeon pass will go up to $79.99 per person. By comparison, a season’s pass to Six Flags is $72 and that includes parking!
  2. Only one of the 450 planned stores will be open for this holiday season and that’s a fancy, 3-story candy store called IT’SUGAR. What are the odds of it still being up and running by the time the other stores begin to open? Slim to none. One lone store in this size mall cannot possibly stay in business for any period of time. The mall is supposedly 87% leased but as it turns out, several of the stores that have taken out leases have already gone bankrupt, e.g., Barney’s, Forever 21, Toys R Us (although the latter will be resuscitated for American Dream).
  3. Little consumer enthusiasm. On opening day (Friday, October 25), most of the buses headed to the mall were empty. That is not a good sign.

An employee was overheard saying there were three people and five buses as of 10 a.m.

Larry Higgs, NJ.com
Scroll down for more photos from the opening weekend and you decide.
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How Did AirBnb Become The Cool Go-To For Brand Activations?

How Did AirBnb Become The Cool Go-To For Brand Activations?

No sooner did I write about the Jim Beam x Airbnb brand activation (at their distillery in Kentucky) then Mattel does the exact same thing for Barbie’s 60th anniversary with a pink-hued Dreamhouse in Malibu.

Is this a new trend or am I just late to the game?

Airbnb is well-known for its marketing and UX prowess which they’ve used very successfully to promote their own brand, e.g., they created a Downton Abbey experience where fans can stay at Highclere Castle, the country estate featured in the show.

Recently, brands have begun to actively pursue partnerships with Airbnb and the results have been exceptional. It’s next-level brand activation.

And when there is an authentic connection between the brand and the Airbnb location, e.g., the Jim Beam historic cottage is the original home of the Beam family, it can make for a truly memorable experience.

I’ll go out on a limb here and boldly state that Airbnb activations are signaling that the days of the pop-up are numbered. I’d also keep an eye on the most run-of-the-mill Instagram-events (which is most of them!) because they too seem to be running out of steam.

Scroll down for more on these unusual Airbnb experiences.
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