Think About It – Part TWO

Retail 2

Even Serendipity Is Serendipitous

Before you knew you even knew it. It’s now possible to create models that increase the likelihood of greater satisfaction individually and on demand.

For example – in the travel category your journey starts well before you want to go anywhere. Smart travel retailers will know that the propensity I have for certain styles of destination is key – it will be their only strategy to get me – and them figuring that out and then helping me increases my decision to trust them to deliver it. Many times over.

How they interpret me and create the experience of the transaction is then the focus. Not only do they need to know what I want, how I want to engage but how I want it presented.

The social revolution is way more than technology.

Sure technology has enabled it but it is how we consume the bits and pieces and shuffle that into some picture of value that is the thing. Let’s take a prestige brand; let’s say it’s a high quality and highly priced bicycle. My immediate challenge is knowing that it even exists.

Already we are able to describe it with many images and clever moving images and other bits of pictures and ideas – all that coupled with powerful semantic techniques will go find it but even then what do we REALLY know about it.

As with the comments on iTunes or any respectable blog or website, that’s probably where we now go before we trust anything being sold. The comments really do start tell us the ‘truth’.

We trust each other but do we really trust the brand? And so it is as we walk the streets to find that great restaurant – part of the thrill is stumbling over it by turning a corner but in reality we could die of hunger in some cities without the aid of Foursquare or the Starbucks app!

Soon the ‘augmented reality’ (AR) reality will really be a reality. In some form just by looking/pointing at buildings and things we will be able to pull in others views and recommendations, warnings and hints just by a wave of the hand. Comments overlaid in real time (a technology known as Layar) – live knowledge will inform our view and decision making process. Extra value applied to our real experiences.

This poses fresh creative challenges for brands

But that’s opportunity. Think about a world where the retailer and service provider is REALLY there to assist and be truly supportive of you. Not selling or being in any sense exploitative because they will know that you could turn them off with a single swipe. This is a world where you can be anywhere and that means only those retailers who can be anywhere will survive. Unless they are a destination or a local provider in which case they need to become excellent at explaining why them and where they are.

Imagine that the retail experience is really redefining itself literally around you as you wander around.

The smart retailer can help you in that, it can support you in that and through that evolution – through that journey become indispensable in that. This smart retailer has to stop worrying about letting the world in on this conversation – especially if it wants to encourage the power bulge – the amplification effect of the community that might grow around the service or product.

This new community building around you is the world, it grows as it moves around and follows you in this ‘halo of knowledge’ that increases in value as you do more within it.

Market Forces. Change

In many ways the whole experience recaptures the buzz of the marketplace, of society and it encourages the participation of everyone in a far more optimistic and self regulating sense of humanity. it enables the new business models of renting cars and clothes, exchanging food and small services instead of cash and for many a return to a time when society exchanged far more than just a nervous and disdainful glance.

Check Out – and

The large brands are notoriously bad at this degree of openness and thinking differently – indeed many of them are not currently built to even play in this new world.

Think About It.

“A Maasai tribesman in Kenya today has better communications capability than President Reagan had 25 years ago and if they’re on a smartphone access to more information than President Clinton 15 years ago.” – Peter Diamandis -Founder of X-Prize

Because we’re humans our brains are wired to smell danger – our society has replaced fierce animals with risk – our society is the worse for it. We constantly hear leaders not prepared to change whilst ‘on their watch’ – they are worried what the market will do to them. Consumers though are wising up, the societies we have spoken about here are debating and their thoughts are like wildfire for a better way.

So here are some things to think about as you gear up for the future

  1. Stop marketing AT people – start attracting and charming them,
  2. Employ people who understood this article and the first point above,
  3. The future is already here,
  4. If you haven’t got a mobile strategy then you are probably already out of business,
  5. Your business plan is already out of date,
  6. Your leadership had better all be on Twitter and know how it works,
  7. What comes after Twitter is already being wrapped and ready to ship,
  8. Understand how to create business models out of augmented reality, sensors, networks, nanotechnology and bits of string,
  9. Google widely and read the first 10 definitions of a social business you can find  – and then think how hard that’s going to be to, build – and then,
  10. Go build a social business.



  • Alan Turner August 12, 2012

    Hi John, I might have worded 9. slightly differently but like your checklist and the rest of the article also. Will have to take some time out to see what else you’ve been thinking about recently. See you soon hopefully, Alan

  • John Caswell August 12, 2012

    ha! yes maybe it shouldn’t give Google too much credit for intelligent searching. We need a new generic. Any thoughts? See you VERY soon hopefully!

  • Macala Wright August 13, 2012

    John – I’m going to play devil’s advocate in this area. While eloquently written and presented, the points clear, I still feel that retail execs need stronger tools and documentation in order to convince their constitutes to become the business and brands you’ve described above.

  • John Caswell August 17, 2012

    Apologies for the delay and yes of course – the question then is going to be around the cultural acceptability of such ideas, the paradigms that would then need to be broken down and just how major an educational challenge this can be coming from a relatively low level function (in too many companies) like marketing/sales/retail. These present great challenges to create tools…this is behavioural change.

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