Millennials: Old vs. Young

Jesse Singal: “Many, many people who are in their late 20s and early 30s simply don’t feel like they are a part of the endlessly dissected millennial generation. As it turns out, there are good reasons for this. Old Millennials … who were born around 1988 or earlier … really have lived substantively different lives than Young Millennials, who were born around 1989 or later, as a result of two epochal events … the financial crisis and smartphones’ profound takeover of society.”

“To be sure, the dissociation … is partly an inevitable artifact of the artificial way we construct generations in the first place. Generations are usually defined as anyone who was born within a span of about 18 years or so, and a lot happens in 18 years.”

“What all this suggests is that there’s very little to be gained from lumping together all millennials in one group … While the Old and Young Millennial categories aren’t carved in stone, and there is certainly some overlap (especially for those who were influenced by older siblings), it doesn’t benefit anyone to act like a 33-year-old and a 23-year-old came up in the same general climate, or with access to the same types of world-altering technology.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

#SecondBreakfast: Multiple Morning Meals

The Wall Street Journal: “Americans in recent years have adopted the practice by eating multiple small meals in the morning … Americans still typically eat around 8 a.m., noon and 6 p.m., but upticks in eating are also happening before and after the traditional breakfast time … The increasing popularity of multiple breakfasts is boosting sales of convenient breakfast foods.”

“Second breakfasts tend to be smaller and slightly more savory than first breakfasts, says Jeanine Bassett, vice president of global consumer insights at General Mills Inc. … This year the company launched Yoplait Dippers, a line of Greek yogurts packaged with snacks for dipping. Vanilla bean yogurt comes with oat crisps; chipotle ranch yogurt with tortilla chips.”

“The Wonderful Co.’s pistachios are usually eaten in the afternoon, but the company aims to expand into what it sees as the fast-growing morning-eating time … To boost easy workplace eating, this month the company is rolling out its first pistachio snack packs, in 1.5 ounce portions, and a new campaign emphasizing the nut’s high protein and fiber content and low calories.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

YamChops: Veggie Butchers Let it Bleed

The Wall Street Journal: Michael Abramson, “a 62-year-old vegan, is the proprietor of YamChops, a faux meat market where every patty, link, and fillet is made from edible plants. To entice “veg curious’ meat eaters as well as vegetarians, he takes great pains to make sure his substitutes look as much like the real thing as possible … So his ground beet burger—actually a medley of beets, carrots, turnips, and zucchini bonded with brown rice and mashed potatoes—doesn’t just resemble a beef burger. It oozes a reddish-pink juice, to appeal to those who like it when their burger ‘bleeds a little bit,’ he says.”

“Mr. Abramson is part of a small but growing community of ‘vegetable butchers’ opening shop from Northern California to Sydney to The Hague, hoping to wow discerning diners with substitute lox crafted from carrots and jerky fashioned from wheat gluten … Some staunch vegans and vegetarians say the word butcher should be verboten because it describes the killing of animals. Some traditional butchers and meat lovers meanwhile are rankled by the co-opting of a term they view as theirs. Many are just confused about the point of it all.”

Consultant Michael Whiteman comments: “Why do soldiers in the anti-meat brigade want food that looks like a hot dog and tastes like a hot dog and smells like a hot dog, but isn’t a hot dog? The answer is, of course, they like hot dogs!”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

How To Kick Out Your Customers

The Wall Street Journal: “Letting guests linger as long they please could cost an extra $30,000 a year. Getting folks out is a tricky task for nearly every type of businesses. Jonathan Greenstein, owner of J. Greenstein & Co., a Cedarhurst, N.Y., auction house for antique Judaica, says some people linger past viewing hours at the pre-auction exhibition, but never appear at the auction itself … Still, it’s impossible to identify the big spenders, so he gives everyone the benefit of the doubt.”

“The bigger the venue, the more massive the operation, of course. At the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, an army of guards warn guests 45 minutes before closing, starting in the center of the 52-acre spread to ensure visitors farthest from the exits reach the gates in time. At Macy’s in Manhattan’s Herald Square, about 15 minutes before the posted closing time clerks fan through all 1.2 million square feet of retail space, offering help with final transactions and checking all 850 fitting rooms.”

“Of course, if patrons really want to stay, why not let them? The American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, which warns guests of closing time in several different languages, gave in to demand a few years ago and started offering adult sleepovers. For $350, patrons can camp overnight under the famous blue whale. Such events have sold out within a day, the museum says.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Must to Avoid: Loser Experience Design

Matt LeMay: “Yes, in the short-term, people may engage with a product for an abstract reward such as ‘points’ or ‘coins.’ But watch what happens as your users see themselves fall to the bottom of that ‘leaderboard’ or fail to get any real value out of the time they’ve invested in earning those shiny trinkets. Competing for something only to realize that it’s worthless is embarrassing, frustrating, and makes you feel like a huge loser. Gratuitous ‘gamification’ is one of the most odious and lazy patterns of bad loser experience design — and in the long term, it doesn’t work.”

“While bad loser experience design can significantly harm a product, good loser experience design can help foster a broad, engaged, and self-sustaining user base … When platforms focus on shared interests and social bonds over ‘likes’ and ‘favorites,’ they help everybody find a place where they belong. Instagram has done a great job doing this with their discovery features, consistently surfacing people who are adjacent to your people, not people with the most likes or followers.”

“Finally … break out of the design and testing patterns that lead to equating ‘power users’ with ‘good users.’ Over-reliance on internal ‘dogfooding,’ where new products and features are tested primarily with a company’s own employees, is a one-way ticket to bad loser experience design. Dismissing user testing candidates who are not over the moon for your product is another surefire road to bad loser experience design. Think through the needs and behaviors of casual users as extensively as you think through those of power users — and ask yourself, ‘if I only use this product a few times a week, will it make me feel like a loser?'”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Facebook Chatbots Test ‘Conversational Commerce’

The Washington Post: Mastercard “has partnered with Subway and two other major merchants to launch ‘chatbots,’ which are robots that simulate human conversation. The Subway iteration allows you to order a custom sandwich for pickup, something of a digital version of walking down the chain’s sandwich assembly line.” Cheesecake Factory “allows shoppers to purchase and send out gift cards.” FreshDirect lets shoppers “place orders for groceries and meal kits. The bots will be found within Facebook’s popular Messenger app, and will be powered by Masterpass, the credit card giant’s digital wallet.”

“The debut of the bots will provide a fresh test of shoppers’ appetite for what the industry has dubbed ‘conversational commerce,’ the idea of making a purchase or other customer service transaction through A.I.-powered messaging … Consumers are spending more time online, and yet they are concentrating those minutes in a very limited number of apps. Retailers … are realizing that the best way to snare your interest online might not be with a killer app of their own, but by creating bots that live in the apps that you already use.”

“Facebook has said that more than 33,000 bots have been created for its Messenger app so far. This latest batch demonstrates how differently businesses are approaching the technology at this early stage of the game.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Disconnect: What Do Shoppers Want From Digital?

Quartz: “To determine if brands have a handle on what shoppers want from digital interaction, IBM’s Institute for Business Value surveyed upwards of 600 executives from a range of global businesses currently introducing new digital customer-experience (CX) tools. It also surveyed more than 6,000 consumers about their attitudes and experiences with digital interactions. It then compared the responses of the two groups to see how well they aligned. The result: They didn’t match up well at all.”

“Executives, for instance, believed the top two factors driving people to use digital customer-experience technologies were a desire for more control over the interaction and a general increase in digital savvy. The top two driving factors consumers identified, however, were speed and convenience. At least according to IBM’s survey, consumers want their online experience to make things easier for them, and aren’t much interested in technology for its own sake.”

“Many also just aren’t impressing shoppers. For instance, about 70% of consumers surveyed who had used virtual reality to explore products, mobile apps that work in a company’s physical store, or voice commands through a computer or phone to engage with a business felt disappointed with the experience and decided not to use these technologies regularly. Many found them inconvenient, confusing, or hard to use.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Netflix & the ‘Tinderization’ of Feeling

Tom Vanderbilt: “Netflix, as you may have heard, is … shedding its former one-to-five-star rating system in favor of binary digits: namely, thumbs up or thumbs down … For one, Netflix was transitioning from a DVD rental business to a streaming company. It was less reliant on you telling it what you liked (via ratings), because it could already tell what you liked — simply by analyzing what you had watched.”

“And there tended to be a gulf between the two behaviors. People rated aspirationally, but they watched situationally. Yes, you did give That Important Documentary five stars when you got around to watching it, but at the end of a trying day at the office, you more often settled on viewing some pleasing pap like The Ridiculous 6 … Another reason for Netflix’s shift from stars to thumbs is that … even when people are given star-rating options, the responses, as research has shown, tend to cluster in the one-star and five-star endpoints — serving as a de facto thumbs up or down.”

“The Netflix move seems another example of what Alicia Eler and Eve Peyser, in an essay in The New Inquiry, call ‘the tinderization of feeling.’ The dating app Tinder, they argue, ‘is a metaphor for speeding up and mechanizing decision making, turning us into binary creatures who can bypass underlying questions and emotions and instead go with whatever feels really good in the moment.’ In a world of vastly proliferating consumer choice, it is small wonder we should turn to the quickest, most primitive gestures to express judgments.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

How Music Changes Dining Behavior

Quartz: “Soundtrack Your Brand, a Spotify-backed music-streaming startup, today released a massive study on the impact of background music in a restaurant setting … Researchers found that music they deemed thoughtful and ‘on-brand’ can drive up sales—especially dessert sales, as customers linger longer—but music that’s too mainstream can actively hurt sales. Restaurants would actually be better off not playing music than playing a random scroll of top hits, it turns out.”

“Soundtrack Your Brand co-founder Ola Sars, who previously helped found Beats Music, which is now owned by Apple. Sars adds that music branding seems to come down to finding the perfect level of subtle emotional engagement: customers balk at hearing overly popular songs because they likely find them too noticeable or distracting, for example.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail