Friday, 29 August 2008

The Gartner Technology Hype Cycle

I remember presenting the MTV study Circuits of Cool early last year and trying to convince a crowd that Second Life was over hyped and not the future of youth culture, not least because no actual young people had ever heard of them. No one believed me. Many Brands including MTV had invested millions of dollars creating virtual worlds of their own or within SL. But here they are plunging into the 'trough of dissolutionment' as I type.

Here is the graph from Gartner for 2008:

and here they are all the way back to 1995.

I want to create a 'trend tester' with OTX's global panel of respondents and actually test trends; fashion, tech or otherwise with real actual young people. Watch this space.

Interesting Data

As a qualitative researcher I am generally allergic to data. So I have been thinking for a while about how to make the presentation of data more interesting / and importantly more insightful.

Here are some really nice examples: Hans Rosling at TED uses longitudinal data that 'moves' (go to about 4:20 seconds to see the really cool stuff):

Charung Gollar, a Norwegian diplomat was asked to present in front of the United Nations, in a simple graphic way, the world's most important problems in 2004. He came up with 8 pictures. Here are a couple. Read the legends:


Thursday, 28 August 2008

Next Big Thing?

There isn't going to be one according to this (long) article. "In 2008, the only prevailing trend is that there are no prevailing trends."

It takes the view that there won't be anything 'big' because the idea of a trend hierarchy has gone, and a million fragmented self-referential scenes can co-exist without following any trend 'authority.' (I would argue that this situation actually makes it ripe for the re-establishment of a unifying voice that collects this stuff together and guides people /filters stuff, but we shall see.)

More important is, I believe, the lack of a linear time line on trends. The word trend is bound up with the concept of time. Fashions used to go out of fashion because they came along, got tired out and we moved on. Old music was rubbish because it looked dated and its what your parents listened to.

But in a totally on demand world - What does 'next' or even 'new' mean?

I would argue that, to a teenager, new doesn't only mean 'just invented', it means 'just undiscovered' too. The Pixies have been around for years, but you could find them, removed from any sociocultural context online and enjoy it as if it was just released.

There is no such thing as 'old music' on the internet - it's all there as gleaming and fresh as the day it was produced. Even old news and old video content crops up in searches as 'important' as the day it was put there.

The internet has tamed the past and I can't wait for the future in my on demand world - everything is 'so now'.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Emerging sexual attitudes

Sensitive area for brands, but its interesting to note the impact technology is having on sexual attitudes and behaviours, all of this obviously bound up with self esteem and identity.

Increasingly young adults and minors are Filming sex, downloading porn to cellphones, selling bluetoothed porn. Seeing that stuff and thinking it was normal aged 14 or younger has got to alter your attitudes.

But then perhaps sex just isn't THAT big a deal to a promiscuous generation with few sexual hang-ups. "A recent study of 475 University of Michigan undergraduates ages 17 to 26 found that 27 percent of the men and 14 percent of the women who weren't in a committed relationship had offered someone favors or gifts -- help prepping for a test, laundry washing, tickets to a college football game -- in exchange for sex. On the flip side, 5 percent of the men surveyed and 9 percent of the women said they'd attempted to trade sex for such freebies" reckons CNN.

Meanwhile STIs continue to rise: "just one in eight of the [UK] population are aged 16 to 24 years old, this age group accounts for around half of all newly diagnosed STIs."

New music Genre - Blog House

New Genre emerging and being discussed / dissed. There is a pretty distinct sound. video here

I think under this banner you could group Thieves Like Us /Ladyhawke / Pnau / Grum / Teenagers / Delorean / Anoraak / etc

I’m quite partial.

Importantly for brands there is, I believe, a return to pretty distinct informed and non informed groups (opinion formers vs mainstream / alt vs mainstream / what ever you want to label them) Around 2002 - the peak of big record labels - pretty much everyone knew or could find out every new credible track / artist emerging. You really didn't need the style press to tell you about Eminem. what more was there to know? Sure enough the british style press died. Because there was almost no distinction between mainstream and leading edge.

Fast forward to today - there is so much content (and noise) an entire music scene can now develop and exist almost entirely away from mainstream consciousness. It is a step back in time and suggest that the market for a style press, filtering, judging and introducing stuff to more mainstream awareness now re-exists. Especially for older consumers who don't have the time to know about this stuff but do have an interest in it..

Bandstocks - invest in bands

Not a new idea (similar to 'slice the pie' and others) but one of the most polished offers out there. Enables bands to have a much closer and deeper relationship with their fans.

The Guardian says: "Bandstocks will let the public buy a stake in an artist in £10 increments. Once funding reaches a preordained level, for example £100,000, the money will be released for the act to record an album.

Investors will get a copy of the album, a credit on the CD sleeve and a percentage of the profits from its sale and licensing. They will also get priority ticket booking and the opportunity to buy limited edition releases. For the artist, founder Andrew Lewis claimed that Bandstocks would offer a better return than a major-label deal, as well as more freedom and control over copyright."

Extreeeme vanity

Heard a new one last night, after teeth whitening and botox, it seems the new craze in high street quasi medical beauty treatments is tanning injections. A friend is getting them done, but it is currently illegal...

details on the drug:

On-line convenience demanded in real life

This is quite surprising: "American University students can now check online to see if a washer or dryer is available -- and receive a text message when their wash or dry cycle is completed." Today's consumers are used to being informed and in control on-line - its only natural that they will look for ways to get that sort of control in real life. Big potential for new products / services here.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Marketing to the Dumbest Generation?

Its a provocative book.

Not sure they are 'dumb' (and adults have always thought / said that anyway) I think it is simply a different type of skill required to succeed in a culture where all information is accessible at the touch of a button. And sure - when it's all out there you'd be crazy to go into any one thing in too much detail, shallowness is an advantage.

It has implications for brands though - young people have always been seen as smart / sophisticated and the advertising has tried to acknowledge this. Thing is have you got their attention long enough to be clever? Perhaps a nice old jingle that would have appealed to an audience in the 70s would work much better...

Cool? Hot? Nang? Tight? or what?

Whatever word you use to describe it - and there are thousands, what does our traditonal concept of Ccol actually mean in 2008? Big, popular, alternative, good at what it does, normal / standard / ok? Or genuinely aspirational?

It seems the concept of cool is bound up in respect for some sort of authority. The idea that someone out there knows better than you do. With a generation who look and act as if they are important and famous already - we don't see that attitude in evidence much today. does it exist?

Cool has been the driver behind youth marketing for most of its existence, If cool is no longer aspirational, if we are no longer promising teens that we can help them reach it, then what has replaced it?

Return of the Trusted Editor?

How do young people decide what to believe today? As web 2.0 evolves the small initial collective of benevolent content creators are being superseded by a mass of individuals ranging from the stupid to the devious: Link.

Is this the beginning of a return to a demand for ‘trusted’ news sources? Or is truth just an old fashioned concept and they are happy to make their own judgment call.