These Companies May Just Beat Amazon at Fashion E-Commerce: A Visual Map of the Marketplace. -
Amazon enjoys the kind of PE ratio that most investors and companies can only dream about. Without getting too deep into the details, while the company has impressive revenue, the expectations for profitability don’t come in anywhere close to the growth rates projected for revenue….
David Weinrot is the chief marketing officer and 12 1/2 year veteran of Shopzilla Inc. which is recognized as a first-mover in the E-commerce space. He is charged with keeping his company top-of-mind with Shopzilla’s over 40 million shoppers.
Shopzilla connects these 40 million shoppers with thousands of products through its suite of growing brands: Beso, Bizrate, Shopzilla, Retrevo, RobotOatmeal, PrixMoinsCher and SparDeinGeld as well as B2B businesses including Bizrate Insights, Shopzilla Publisher Program, and its audience targeting division Aisle A
FMG caught up with Weinrot and asked him how technology has upended traditional marketing methods and the role of a CMO.
Q: What are the skills required for today’s CMO? How have they changed?
A: I’d say that in the digital media world and the digital product world, the role of the CMO is less about managing an agency and traditional brand management and more about understanding consumer needs and their behaviors and then tailoring experiences to support them. No amount of continued advertising or celebrity or professional endorsement of a particular product would continue to drive users beyond initial trials for any of those experiences unless they are nothing short of amazing. If you don’t deliver on the mark it’s pretty clear that users won’t continue to use you.
Shopzilla has long been about connecting buyers and sellers and retailers and consumers. Our new property called beso.com is designed to support a different type of behavior—its less about price comparison and more about product discovery and style inspiration. We began to observe that individuals have a penchant to fill pockets-of-time in their lives - whether in line at Starbucks or before meetings at the office - with the passive consumption of inspired content. So, to support that behavior, we launched a visually rich, curated shopping feed on both our Beso desktop experience and our iPhone app. When we tapped into this behavior, we observed a 3x increase of dwell time.
Q: What are the challenges for today’s CMO?
A: Unlike perhaps the role of the traditional CMO, we don’t really have the luxury of being able to rely on traditional advertising to sustain use. Which is why someone in my shoes has to be incredibly focused on creating experiences that support behaviors that consumers or users exhibit.
“Everyone is an influencer.”
Q: What differentiates Beso.com from competitors like ShopStyle.com?
A: Beso.com takes the Shopzilla experience to another level. What’s unique about Beso, particularly relative to our other properties, is that it has a decidedly editorial bent to it. We realized that our contributors are really passionate about shopping and that comes through in the content that they create. Beso Rewards brings the concept of affiliate marketing to the masses. It’s about showcasing great style to inspire shoppers and rewarding them for sharing their finds. Everyone now has a platform to reach friends and family. Everyone is an influencer.
Q: How does Aisle A cull information from Shopzilla and/or Beso.com?
A: We realize that the things that people shop for say a lot about who they are. If you’re shopping for baby stroller, it says a lot about the life stage you’re in. We use that data to help marketers reach people who are in the market for strollers but we think it’s more useful to help marketers bring other messages to those who are in those life stages. There’s an emerging industry in advertising technology that allows marketers to reach audiences irrespective of the context of where they are. So [if you’re shopping for a baby stroller you’d be] ready to receive a message about things that new parents would be interested in such as vacations or baby food. We think that this is a great thing for the industry.
Q: What are the current consumer trends you’re now witnessing and how are you gearing marketing to those trends?
“I think we’re beginning to observe a rise in marketplaces.”
A: I think we’re beginning to observe a rise in marketplaces. The original marketplaces on the web were Craigslist and eBay where individuals could come and find buyers for things that they were digging out of their closet. Now it’s not just individuals, but established brands that use these outlets to reach buyers. If you think of eBay as a mall as opposed to a garage sale or a flea market—it’s a channel through which retailers and brands can reach shoppers in much the same way that J.Crew might set up a store in a mall around the corner. Amazon and buy.com have all manifested marketplaces. Now you see retailers like Petco on Amazon reaching consumers that they would not ordinarily reach. There are essentially these monuments of website that do an amazing job of aggregating audiences.
Q: What’s your long-term vision?
A: Our mission has always been about connecting buyers and sellers, shoppers and retailers, and as our company has evolved, we have appreciated the big funnel through which that process happens and it’s not always a straight line. The top is largely about inspiration and product discovery and helping shoppers understand the landscape of what’s out there and what’s available. The bottom is the price-comparison proposition—making sure you get the best deal. It’s about connecting buyers and sellers along every point in this shopping funnel. Our long-term mission is to continue to an expert job of connecting buyers and sellers at every point along this long and sometimes circuitous shopping funnel.
By Kristin Young for FMG @kristayloryoung
Chief Editor: Jed Wexler @jedwexler
Spring is Here. Finally.
As we slowly but surely enter the homestretch to Spring (at least on the East Coast), the ‘industry’ is riding a serious storytelling, content, and Pinterest marketing wave. In an attempt to make sense of it all we’ve selected some articles for you that may shed at least a little bit of light on the whole thing.
FMG Editor’s Picks:
1) Why Content Marketing Beats Out Advertising (infographic)
2) How To Engage The Right Fashion Bloggers for Your Brand (And Amplify Your Content Marketing).
3) Great branded storytelling by Free People
4) Reasons Why Content Marketing is Scaring the Pants Off Media Companies
5) Pinterest Image Data Proves Valuable to Brands.
Stay tuned for improvements to FMG! As always, we look forward to your continued feedback and contributions.
The FMG team
photo: Stephen Stickler
“The company is now just as much a content generator as it is a design house.” Christopher Bailey, Creative Director of Burberry, (in Fast Company).
This pretty much says it all. Brands have become the new content publishers, rapidly morphing into today’s media companies.
‘Content Marketing’ is undoubtedly the new (and here to stay) tactical wave of how brands plan reach and engage with their customers - and on a much deeper level than ever before. Content marketing is also proving to be more effective and cheaper than paid advertising.
According to this infographic by Marketo , content marketing is a growing force because it develops trust, minimizes risk, drives traffic, and captures leads…and nurtures those leads.
Enter The Fashion Blogger.
The idea of content spans so many genres, levels, and mediums that what may be appropriate for one brand, may in fact be meaningless for another.
Brand marketing today is moving at light speed, beyond simple media buys to buzzier words like ‘engagement’, curation, and ‘social commerce. Marketing strategy now involves being editor-in-chief, filmmaker, and storyteller, all-in-one.
But once you have created captivating, quality, authentic content in line with your brand values – now what?
Why are fashion bloggers (or any blogger for that matter) relevant to content marketing?
Because bloggers are gaining ground on traditional media as never before - in many cases consumers are engaging with bloggers/indie publishers at the same rate or more compared to established media brands (i.e. Conde Nast, Hearst, et al).
Also, Bloggers have the potential to build content and bolster your brand message if managed and engaged in a meaningful way.
Bloggers typically have a much more resonant online voice than the average person in social media, and when chosen wisely, are uniquely qualified to amplify the voice of a brand.
Bloggers vs. Big Media – A Comparison
We recently crawled some key fashion blogger social media data points in order to compare the levels of Facebook & Twitter content sharing and engagement between blogs and big media.
Here’s a Teen Vogue post on two bloggers who share an apartment
The Data (from last year):
FB Shares: 12
FB Likes: 5
FB Comments: 1
FB Total: 18
Total Retweets: 16
Now, let’s take a look at one of the bloggers featured (“Trop Rouge”) who posted a run-of-the-mill post;
Prior to being featured the post received,
FB Shares: 4
FB Likes: 6
FB Comments: 1
FB Total: 11
Total Retweets: 4
At first glance you might say “Teen Vogue got more engagement,” but consider that they have 1.3 million Facebook fans and 1.2 million Twitter followers. Trop Rouge has 3700 Facebook fans and 3300 Twitter followers. This is a testament to the power of the mid-range blogger.
Now for another example, and one that shows that it’s not just US bloggers holding their own against huge multi-person operations:
Garatos Estupidas (“Stupid Girls”)is a Brazilian blog, currently the top non-U.S.-based foreign-language blog in our list – and created by a single author.
We put Camila Coutinho (‘Garotas’ single blog author) up against Vogue Brasil;
Traffic (according to Google AdPlanner)
GE: 680,000 visitors in May 2012
VB: 2.6 million visitors in May 2012
Vogue Brasil has 3x times the traffic, and still can’t match a single author blog when it comes to fans and followers.
And, now for the men. The Sartorialist vs. GQ.
Coverage of the same men’s Bottega Veneta fashion show last year;
FB Shares: 3
FB Likes: 11
FB Comments: 7
FB Total: 21
GQ: Total Retweets: 1
FB Shares: 67
FB Likes: 20
FB Comments: 11
FB Total: 98
The Sartorialist Total Retweets: 89!
You may get ‘visibility’ by going with traditional media but if you want to reach sites that can drive the same level of interaction (and possibly more) for half to a quarter of the cost, go with bloggers.
Now to the tactical part…
How to Engage the right Fashion Bloggers for your Brand: 3 Tips;
1) Evaluate Blogs on Content & Audience: Go beyond follower counts.
First of all, select fashion bloggers based how often and how widely a blogger’s content is shared – not just follower counts. Retweets, comments, and engaged followers are way more important.
There are several ways to do this;
- Search blogger user names on Twitter to get an influence overview
- Google has analytics tools evolved from their acquisition of Postrank that sift through social media/content data
- Work with your developer/tech team to pass it through Facebook’s ‘Open Graph API’ – this is the primary way to get data in and out of Facebook’s social graph
- On Instagram search for a blogger’s username and look for the number of comments to get a feel for activity and influence.
2) Choose bloggers that fit your brand. Look beyond the names everyone knows. Give Recognition.
As content and commerce merge, the demand for content (and curation) on behalf of a brand can be an overwhelming task, and bloggers if worked with properly, can be your most effective partner.
Expand potential blog partners to include up-and-comers as well as established names. The top ten fashion and beauty bloggers have become household ‘brand’ names along the lines of Vogue and Elle – and can be just as expensive to work with and as tough to reach.
Therefore, in many ways the more influential (and accessible) are those hundreds of bloggers that sit somewhere in the middle and still preside over passion-communities, and can become your greatest brand advocates.
Also, give recognition to bloggers who post content in line with your message. And there should always be a deal in place if republishing original content in its entirety, and fair use – short snippets, a small thumbnail, etc., if just including a non-commercial daily roundup or something similar. Using blogger content for your own advertising or products always requires the bloggers’ or publisher’s permission.
Unlike magazines, blogs aren’t standardized. Each one will have different criteria for widgets, write-ups and everything in between.
3) Ensure Blogger marketing is part of your overall marketing strategy
Campaigns that are in the digital realm cannot exist in a vacuum. Your strategy with bloggers and content marketing must fit in with your overall marketing mix. Marketing and brand strategy has to be an integrated solution across all media, traditional, and digital, especially for visually driven industries like fashion and beauty.
Too often brands relegate blogger marketing, partnerships, and PR to their ‘social media’ or ‘digital’ departments without integrating these initiatives at the highest stakeholder/CMO levels. The issue is the way brands are siloed. By leveraging all of your departments around blogger marketing and content initiatives, these campaigns take on a robust life that, if executed well, can significantly increase consumer engagement, brand chatter, and ultimately revenue. ***
Article, data, and research by:
Cover Photo courtesy of Stephen Stickler
Another great post on content from our friends at Newscred, the not-so-small startup that is reinventing the way content is distributed, consumed and shared across the social web. This is perfect.
“Amid all the buzz about the benefits of content marketing, there’s an important element missing from many of the conversations: storytelling.
It’s easy to create content, which is why many brands will be jumping on the content bandwagon this year.
But content is just a commodity without storytelling to give it a rock-solid foundation. Without storytelling, content is nondescript, uninspiring and, frankly, a waste of time and energy.
For startups, storytelling is a no-brainer because attracting the spotlight is difficult without a large marketing budget or, for that matter, a marketing budget at all. To be honest, it’s always surprising to come across a startup doing a bad job of storytelling, particularly when their product is interesting.
Good stories deliver a competitive edge because it is easier to attract an audience – whether they’re customers, advertisers, employees, partners or investors.
So how do startups become good storytellers?
It begins with having a real grasp about what they do, why what they’re doing matters, and their target audiences. It may come across as a simple proposition but nailing it a big challenge. But once that story comes to life, it is so much easier for storytelling to happen in a variety of mediums.
Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and writing about storytelling, and working with startups to create well-articulated, easy to grasp stories. It is challenging but rewarding work when it comes together.
For startups, a key litmus test is when your story resonates with different people.
When your story is really working, people will happily go through many “chapters” without even realizing it.”
Jed Wexler. Eight-Eighteen Strategies.: Authenticity = Successful Examples of Branded Content -
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. From the Guardian UK.
“The most successful examples of branded content occur when a brand’s values and messaging are inextricably entwined in the content itself – when the end result feels both natural and authentic.”
“So if you’re a marketer or…
Yes, of course we wish we did this one. This is one of those times where an amazing, game-changing product, Sonos, deploys an equally good (if not better) thoughtful, integrated marketing campaign. Especially timely given that Janelle Monae was a recent honoree (Nov. 4) on annual awards show “Black Girls Rock!”, along with Alicia Keys. We get the sense that the brand and agency just really get it.
Today’s New York Times article on a powerful, emerging trend of shopping sites providing bloggers and everyday shopping enthusiasts financial incentives for posting product links across their social media channels. This is a powerful new-ish spin on affiliate marketing. E-commerce sites like Beso, Fancy, and Pose are rushing to position themselves in this space. - JW
By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD
Julie Medeiros thinks her taste in fashion is worth something. Turns out it is: about $50 a month.
Lynsey Eaton, who runs the blog Law of Fashion on Pose, said switching to the paid version made her more likely to post links.
“Instead of just making it an Instagram for fashion, it’s now shoppable as well,” said Ms. Eaton, in some favorite fashions.
Ms. Medeiros is not a style pro; her day job is at a talent agency in Manhattan. But in a little-known practice, social media shopping sites are offering payments to shoppers who post product links that drive Web traffic and sales to retailers.
In the case of Ms. Medeiros, it is the sneakers and lipstick she added to Pinterest and the night life collection she posted on the shopping site Beso.
Favorable mentions on blogs have been for sale for years. Product reviews can also be bought. Now social media sites are taking citizen marketing to a new extreme, turning anyone’s Twitter message, Facebook post, Pinterest image or e-mail into a possible paid promotion.
The shopping sites are open about the moneymaking mechanics and argue that readers no longer expect everything online to be commercial-free. But the Federal Trade Commission says the practice blurs the line between a recommendation and a paid endorsement and needs to be flagged to readers.
“It’s turning word of mouth into a revenue opportunity,” said Mary Engle, who directs the commission’s division of advertising practices. “Since they’re getting compensated, in a sense, for their endorsement, then they should disclose that.”
Social media shopping sites let users select items from across the Web and share and comment on other users’ selections. They don’t sell anything themselves but make money by taking a cut from retailers on their sites.
Beso formally introduced a program on Tuesday that Ms. Medeiros has been trying, which pays users to send clicks to hundreds of major retailers, like Target and Gap.
“If they drop a link onto Twitter about a pair of shoes that they’re dying for, or a new handbag they’re coveting, and they refer users to Neiman’s or whoever sells that item,” said David Weinrot, the chief marketing officer for Shopzilla, the parent company of Beso, “they could actually be rewarded.”
Other large social shopping sites and apps, including the Fancy and Pose, recently introduced similar programs, and Referly, a site introduced in May, is entirely based on people referring products to friends and receiving money in return. Referly says 10,000 people have already signed up. The programs are too new to evaluate their financial success, but Web marketers say consumers should expect more similar programs, in part because visitors are no longer offended by the idea.
“The economic maturity of consumers is, businesses need to make money somehow if they’re going to survive — it’s so ubiquitous now that it’s expected,” said Alicia Navarro, co-founder and chief executive of Skimlinks, which automates referral links for publishers.
The sites determine who gets paid through unique links created for each participant. When someone uses a link to visit a retailer’s site, or buys a product, a payment is deposited into the referring user’s account. The practice is known as affiliate marketing. Bloggers already use the system and almost all major online retailers are willing to pay for traffic or purchases, Ms. Navarro said.
Links can be tracked no matter where a post occurs, meaning a Twitter message, a photo on Pinterest or a Facebook entry can all generate revenue. The social media shopping sites act as a middle man, collecting fees from the retailers and depositing payments into the users’ online accounts — after taking a cut. (Sometimes, sites cut out consumers, too. Earlier this year, Pinterest got into hot water when it quietly adjusted some users’ links to become affiliate-marketing links, and seemed to be collecting all the revenue for itself. It says it has ceased using affiliate links and declined to comment on whether it would offer users fees from such links in the future.)
Beso pays users an average of 14 cents for each click they send to participating retailers, while other companies, like Pose, pay only when a purchase is associated with a link. Payments for purchases average about 5 percent of the price, Ms. Navarro said. The sites and the retailers monitor for spamlike behavior, like tons of clicks from a single I.P. address, and do not pay in those cases.
Lynsey Eaton, a Pose user who runs the blog Law of Fashion, said switching to the paid model for Pose images had made her more likely to post Pose links, and had made the service more useful. “Instead of just making it an Instagram for fashion, it’s now shoppable as well,” she said.
The Federal Trade Commission issued guidelines in 2009 saying bloggers must disclose any paid endorsements, and recently updated them. The guidelines apply to these commission-based links, Ms. Engle of the commission’s advertising division said, whether they are in a post or a 140-character Twitter post. “They can use a hashtag and then ‘ad,’ and that’s only three characters,” Ms. Engle said.
But there is some disagreement about whether a Twitter post should be treated like a blogger’s recommendation and about the changing expectations of financial disclosure on the Web.
Linda Goldstein, a lawyer specializing in advertising, said when the F.T.C. issued its blogger guidelines, “consumers were much less sophisticated” than they are today. “Consumers are now being used to generate leads — I don’t know if that raises the same concerns as an endorsement,” said Ms. Goldstein of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. “You’re not expressing an opinion about the product, you’re sending it to someone you think might be interested.”
Twitter and Facebook policies allow individuals to post referral-based links, but both companies say users should disclose that they are getting paid.
So far, the social media companies and their users seem to be largely unaware of how the guidelines apply to them.
Dustin Rosen, chief executive of Pose, said he was not clear on whether the guidelines would apply. Beso says its users should add hashtags like #spon, for sponsored, or #paid to links, but stops short of requiring it. Ms. Eaton, the Pose user, says she follows disclosure guidelines on her blog but has not yet done so on Pose. “I think this is so new that I haven’t really honestly thought about how users perceive the fact that people are making money,” she said.
Ms. Medeiros, who signed up for the Beso pilot program about a month ago, says she doubts that her friends will mind that she makes money from her links.
“It’s extra cash for something that I like doing,” she said. “It’s sort of rewarding to be able to make a few cents from sharing your personal life.”
(source link here)
The team over at Eight-Eighteen Strategies is proud to announce a great way for brands to effectively reach the top fashion & beauty bloggers in the world.
They have partnered with their friends over at Signature9 to provide access to a ranking of the top 1500 most influential fashion & beauty bloggers worldwide - while providing strategy, media planning, content direction, executive training, and unique insight into which bloggers are right for your brand or initiative.
Why Work With Bloggers?
· “You should be courting influencers—trusted insiders with engaged followers (such as bloggers, niche celebrities, or active tweeters), who can help spread your message.” Fast Company, August 2012.
· Bloggers are the gateway influencers for social media – when traditional outreach is not enough.
· Working with right bloggers is obviously essential to any marketing plan and e-commerce strategy.
· Consumers are engaging with bloggers/indie publishers at the same rate or more compared to established media brands (i.e. Conde Nast, Hearst, et al).
So How Do You Work With Bloggers? By Going Beyond the Blast.
Approach the right bloggers, send the right message, build and maintain your blogger relationships. And keep the conversation going. For starters.
For more info: www.eighteighteen.biz
photo courtesy of: Stephen Stickler
This looks like a savvy big-brand marketing move by J.Crew to tap into the tech zeitgeist. It’s also a testament to the power of fashion’s influence on Tumblr and throughout tech in general. Brands have long ‘sponsored’ celebrities, skaters, surfers, athletes, musicians, bands, etc - are tech entrepreneurs next? Brands can certainly benefit if the sponsorships are tastefully done and if there is a true culture fit.
This from a Business Insider post by writer Nicholas Carlson;
“David Karp, the founder and CEO of $800 million blog platform Tumblr can be found modeling a suit on J. Crew’s website.
Elle says J Crew has a plan to “feature real people, rather than models, in its fall campaign.”
Design-savvy West Coast eyewear brand Raen Optics has just launched a clever, and very visual social media campaign called, “#throughtheeyes”
Their idea is simple. Shoot your travels, friends, experiences, etc, through your RAEN frames and hashtag #Throughtheeyes on your social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc). You can also email them your images to post to RAEN’s as well.
Additional Photos from the Raen Collection. For more go to www.raenoptics.com
This comes from one of our favorite Fashion/Tech news sources, Business of Fashion Hope to see a lot of you pitch for this one!
NEW YORK, United States — Today, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), in collaboration with Manhattan-based concept store STORY, founded by Rachel Shechtman, is set to launch Project PopUp NYC, a competition that offers the city’s most promising fashion retailers and technology start-ups the opportunity to win prizes including a temporary pop-up shop, PR and marketing support and valuable business mentoring to coincide with New York Fashion Week in September.
“Project Pop-Up NYC will enable emerging New York City-based fashion retailers and fashion technology companies to gain critically important exposure, helping them to join the next generation of leaders within this important sector,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “By providing the opportunity to sell merchandise from a unique pop-up store, while also offering mentorship and business development training, this program will help these companies take their businesses to the next level.”
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Earlier this week, one of our favorite resources, Business of Fashion, announced the launch of “Elevator Pitch,” a recurring feature on BoF that will showcase one exceptional fashion-technology start-up per month and provide valuable feedback from a panel of fashion, technology and investment experts. This is one opportunity we suggest you jump on right away.
The Panel of Experts:
· Sonali De Rycker, Partner, Accel Partners, London
· Kirsten Green, Founder, Forerunner Ventures, New York
· Ben Lerer, Founder, Thrillist, New York
· Rachel Shechtman, Founder, Cube Ventures, New York
· Imran Amed, Founder and Editor, The Business of Fashion, London
For more information & criteria for submitting your Fashion/Tech startup for consideration click here;
Article by @JedWexler
Interview by Kristin Young
We were thrilled to speak recently with author and FMG Member Kevin Maney about his latest book “The Two-Second Advantage: How We Succeed by Predicting the Future…Just Enough,” (co-authored with Vivek Ranadive). The book recently spent several weeks on the NY Times bestseller list.
Maney is a long-time business and technology journalist – he has written for USA Today, Fortune, Fast Company, Portfolio, and The Atlantic, and authored five books. FMG’s Kristin Young talked with Maney (interview below) about The Two-Second Advantage, fashion, and technology.
In 2005, Malcolm Gladwell explored human intuition in ‘Blink’, in which he writes, “the power of knowing, in that first two seconds, is not a gift given magically to a fortunate few, it is an ability that we can all cultivate for ourselves.” Maney’s book takes that concept a step further.
According to his book, developing predictive talent, teams, and brands requires a desire to push past what’s comfortable, yet a willingness to do the same things over and over again in order to reinforce the neuro-ability essential to generating accurate, complex predictions.
That said, there are those talented individuals that always seem to have an inherent feel for making correct predictions about what’s going to happen (i.e. Steve Jobs, Wayne Gretzky) – and do it a little better and faster than most of the population. Neuroscientists are just coming to understand how these people’s brains work.
In a new twist, neuroscientists are now working with computer scientists to build brain-like “talent” into technology – which, needless to say, may just be the holy grail of business and creative entrepreneurship in the digital space. And that is already helping entities such as fashion brands and retailers more accurately predict events in the market.
The FMG Interview: Kevin Maney
FMG: So, talent is mostly about making very good predictions?
KM: Right. It’s instinct, but it’s based on taking in massive amounts of information over a long time, and using that data to build a very efficient mental model of how things work. Then when something happens, a talented person can run it through that model and instantly know what it means and what’s about to happen — while the rest of us are searching through our brains to try to put the pieces together.
FMG: What’s an example?
KM: In the book, we look at a range of talented people. In sports, Wayne Gretzky had such an amazing model of hockey in his head, he knew what was about to happen in a game before anyone else. Boston’s mayor, Tom Menino, can do the same for something that happens in the city. This guy Mystery, who bills himself as the world’s greatest pick-up artist, is super-predictive when talking to a woman. That’s his talent.
FMG: And this applies in the fashion world?
KM: A great designer no doubt has that kind of mental model of fashion, and can see something and instantly predict where fashion is heading. But this idea of predictiveness gets, I think, really interesting when applied to companies in the fashion universe.
FMG: How so?
KM: You can see early versions already. Take Macy’s. It has a rewards card — customers swipe it when they make a purchase. Now Macy’s is starting to use that data to build predictive models of its most loyal customers. The store will know that if a certain person buys jeans and socks, chances are high that she wants a cardigan sweater. Macy’s is trying out ways to capitalize on that by, perhaps, offering her a deal on a sweater right at check-out.
FMG: Where is this heading?
KM: If Macy’s or any retailer can keep gathering data and perfect a computer model of the market and of customers — it could start to predict on the fly, as things happen, like a talented person. The company could see a slight shift in buying, and know exactly where customers are heading in the next few minutes — not next year.
FMG: And companies are actually getting into this stuff?
KM: Oh yeah. Sam’s Club is deep into building predictive systems, and has gotten so good at predicting what an individual customer will buy, it sometimes scares the customer. Companies across industries are going this way. Caesar’s Entertainment, for casinos. Southwest Airlines. Reliance Communications, a cell phone service in India. Eventually companies are going to need this the way they now need databases and spreadsheets.
FMG: What might this mean for start-ups in fashion?
KM: This kind of brain-like, predictive computing is going to be a big change in technology and what technology can do. Whenever that happens, it opens up all kinds of opportunities for innovation. Some smart designer might use it to know exactly what will work in the market. And you already see some companies like EDITD that are starting to supply predictive technology and data on fashion. Our book suggests that a whole dramatic wave of innovation is coming.
FMG: But the book isn’t just about technology — it’s also about people and talent. For instance, what are “Ones” and “Twos?”
KM: In the book, venture capitalist Ben Horowitz talks about how he sees CEOs as either Ones or Twos. Ones build these mental models - like a Gretzky - and constantly react instinctively to events. They don’t do studies or ask for data. They just know. Twos are more careful. They want data before making decisions. They don’t trust their gut — probably because they don’t have one. Steve Jobs is a One. Mickey Drexler [CEO of J.Crew] is a One. The Ones make great CEOs. Twos make great COOs.
FMG: Wait — are we about to make computers that can be Ones? Computers that can be creative?
KM: Not in any foreseeable future. Creativity and the human brain are so complex — we’re not going to see machines that work just like brains. But technologists are learning from how brains and talent work to build a more interesting model of computing. That’s a big difference.
FMG: You mention Steve Jobs — does the iPhone’s Siri fit into this? Or the IBM computer that won on Jeopardy?
KM: In certain ways yes; in a lot of ways, no. Siri is software built on rules — if this, then that. It’s a lot of very complicated rules processed unimaginably quickly, but it all comes down to Siri thinking, “If asked what I’m wearing, answer, ‘Why does everybody ask that?’” The Jeopardy computer worked the same way, with even more complexity and greater speed. Still, both systems are built to learn a little bit. They start to modify their own rules based on what’s happening. It’s the very outer edges of building more brain-like computers.
FMG: Any last thoughts about our brains?
KM: An uplifting message in the book is that talent isn’t just great DNA — a person can build it, at any time of life. It takes thousands of hours and a lot of dedication, but it can be done. Mystery was not naturally a great pick-up artist. He built that talent over time.
Click image/link below to Purchase Kevin’s book*
*FMG has an affiliate relationship with amazon and will receive a small % of any book sales from this link – which goes to support our staff. Tks!