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Like many people my age (37 years old) with a couple of young children (Alex, age 5 and Brett, age 2) I have begun to do grown up things like create a will, buy life insurance, and invest for my family's future (college, vacations, investments/nest egg, etc.). Accordingly, I have begun looking more closely at our monthly and annual expenses as part of the process. This has truly been an eye opening experience and one of the family expenses that jumped out at me was the amount of our cable bill. Much like the first time I bought a legitimate mattress, it is somewhat shocking to see what Cable services run these days. Removing broadband/internet/wireless service from the equation, I am still paying over $150/month for cable television services! But here is the real kicker'?¦I can hardly remember the last time I watched something significant on TV: Superbowl - at a local bar/restaurant Masters Golf - ESPN3.com Olympics/World Cup Soccer - various online sites NHL Stanley Cup - bar, NHL GameCenter Live, in-person (Go Flyers!!) Cable Shows (non-network) - HULU, NetFlix Various other Video Content- Wii, Droid, NetFlix, YouTube I am sure there are people out there that watch a lot of TV and have the time and schedules to allow them to watch it in real time when the latest episodes air. I am not one of these people. I am often not awake late enough to watch the shows I would like to, and my schedule never allows me to be in front of a TV when I want to be... Accordingly, I am usually a season or two or three behind with the top shows. Additionally, my kids watch mostly DVD's and instant content from NetFlix (over the Wii or BluRay player). In fact my five (5) year old pesters me to watch Scooby Doo and Batman episodes on my Droid or family computer over YouTube incessantly. So basically it is my wife who utilizes our cable services the most. This is not a negative statement, just a fact when I consider my family. Having said that, even she only watches a few, albeit bad, television shows'?¦The Bachelor/Bachelorrette, Keeping up with the Kardashians, and the like. With all the press around ipTV and content becoming more and more available over the internet and through multiple hardware platforms, I am seriously considering downsizing my cable bill to the bare minimum. Everyday there is news of Netflix and YouTube gaining additional rights and ability to share content. More and more content providers are creating consumer direct content solutions'?¦ they can make more selling direct to consumers online than the small stipend from cable companies that re-sell the content. Maybe my television is not actually a television anymore, but in fact a large computer screen. Stay tuned'?¦
As students all over the country were being dismissed from school during the Spring of 2009, many of their parents were also being, or already were, dismissed from their jobs as well. And after a long hard summer, the job market is slowly starting to level off and many of the unemployed are slowly heading Back to Work just as their kids are heading Back to School. Will brands and marketers reach out to this ever increasing consumer segment just like they target high school and college students? Just like students who want to fit in and mesh with peers and classmates, new employees want to make a lasting first impression with senior management and co-workers at a new place of employment. I would argue that the pressure is even greater as you are talking about individuals who legitimately understand the pressures of professional success/growth, especially in tough economic times. Social networking has become more and more important to these individuals as communication/networking has become one of most important lifelines to the modern employee. What is going on in the marketplace, who is laying off folks now, who got hired when and by whom'?¦these are all questions that 25 to 45 year olds are asking hourly to friends, families, associates, neighbors, and strangers alike every day. Have an interview at a new company'?¦who do you know that works there or has worked there and can give you some insight, or by the grace of god'?¦a recommendation! Starting a new job'?¦who can you talk to for the skinny on your new boss, office environment, co-workers, etc. BTW consumers are exhibiting many of the same purchase behaviors as those of students going back to school, and for many of the same reasons. They want to look good and set a tone for who they are and what they will become at their new jobs. In many cases these are people that have been at the same job for many years prior to becoming out of work'?¦their wardrobe slowly having gone to far in the direction of business casual, and beyond. They will need to refresh/upgrade their wardrobe to fit a new corporate culture'?¦thoughts of 'dress for success'? coming back to their minds. They want to have, and need to have, the latest technology devices to keep up. Gone are their company provided gadgets. Additionally, many companies are no longer providing company owned and paid devices to new employees'?¦monthly allocations for reimbursement are becoming more and more the norm. Consumers need to truly understand technology now and figure out what works best for them at the most effective costs. I say we would be remiss to ignore this ever-increasing consumer segment. This is a group who has been unable to consume for months worrying about an unsure future. With new employment comes relief and excitement about living again'?¦who could blame this individual if they wanted to celebrate with a new outfit, cell phone/PDA, laptop, etc. We as marketers should understand this and give them reason to buy our products and brands. I can see it now'?¦ 'bring confirmation of new employment to a Macy's near you and receive 40% off clothing/shoes/accessories now through November 15th!!!!'?
The second the plane is safely in the sky and cruising toward its destination, the flight attendants give us the go-ahead to utilize our precious electronic devices. Out come iPods, iPhones, PDA's, laptops, portable DVD's, and the myriad of other devices that now litter the marketplace. And I am not immune'?¦I reach for my own laptop and dive into my own agenda of things I have told myself I can 'do on the plane'? as I make my way to my destination. That is when I spot it'?¦and no matter how many times I see it, it still shocks me. The white collar professional'?¦wearing the outfit (black pants, colored collared shirt, nice belt and dress casual shoes) and carrying the bag (black leather with bag tag containing a business card)'?¦hunched over their company provided and paid computer or PDA'?¦playing Solitaire!!! This singular act irks me more than I care to admit, especially in today's tough economic climate. There are still people who have the time and inclination to play Solitaire all the way from Philadelphia to Atlanta? I am not afraid to admit that this is a sick fascination that has gotten to the point where I will actually get up and walk the plane to see if I can identify any transgressors. I will move seats if someone near me is blissfully lost in a game, as I am unable to concentrate on anything other than what else this person could be doing and why they are wasting life's precious time. I have even started a group on Facebook where people like me (I am the only member to date) can discuss alternatives to playing solitaire'?¦alternatives that lead to personal and professional betterment instead of wasted time... Some popular options include: '?¢ Create to-do lists to organize what you need to do and by when '?¢ Merge/enter to-do list with PDA or Computer calendar program '?¢ Write a hand written note to family, friends, clients, politicians, etc. '?¢ Pay bills and/or manage finances '?¢ Update charts/activity reports/spreadsheets/proposals '?¢ Brainstorm ideas that you think would make your company/group make money, operate more efficiently, or increase morale. Put into an e-mail and send to your manager '?¢ Write an article for your company's monthly newsletter '?¢ Create e-mails saying hello and checking in with family members or business clients you have not spoken to in over 4 weeks '?¢ Read a book that is relevant and beneficial to your person or profession '?¢ Review general company correspondence or industry trades/news '?¢ Review and study sales materials for a product or service that you are not very familiar with at your own company or a company you do work for '?¢ Download and/or sort through digital picture library '?¢ Enter information from collected business cards into computer contact list Some of you out there might be Solitaire players'?¦or Bubble Breaker, or Texas Hold 'em, or Tetris'?¦.and all I ask is that you stop yourself the next time you go to tap or click on the 'games'? folder of your personal electronic device. Ask yourself if there is anything else you can do before you lose yourself in Solitaire?? And if all else fails'?¦I recommend Spider Solitaire and challenge you to beat my score of 1504, playing with all four suits.