'Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned.'? - Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964. In 1964, Marshall McLuhan became the first person to popularize the concept of a global village; an interconnected world made possible by rapid advances in technology. His insights were revolutionary at the time, and laid the foundation for the way we think about media, technology, and mass communication in today's digital age. Interestingly enough, while we have the technological means to be global, I would argue that today's millennial consumers use these technologies more to focus on themselves as well as the local realm ' and marketers and advertisers are taking notice. While today's consumers are invested in global and philanthropic causes and do stay on top of world news, millennials are more generation 'Me'? and 'what's going on around me within my circle'? than any other generation in history. In certain respects, Marshall McLuhan was the original social media guru; he understood the innate human need to connect with one another and share. Today, hundreds of millions of people live a large part of their lives online, myself included. However this trend has not turned entire generations into anti-social zombies. Instead, social media and mobile communications are fueling mass-connectivity at the local level, as consumers (especially millennials) use these technologies to connect with family and friends, and learn about local happenings and events in their area. A significant portion of marketing campaigns today include a social media component to drive engagement, increase participation and create a more memorable all-around experience -- again, 'global village'? enabling technologies for local activation. Consider Groupon Inc., a Chicago-based Internet-coupon service. The company was founded in 2008 and in merely two years, has accumulated more than 35 million users in >300 markets worldwide. The site offers consumers the opportunity to purchase unique products and/or services in their local area at a discount rate. The company has done extremely well because: A) consumers enjoy partaking in social activities such as social-commerce, purchasing products and services as a group B) Groupon's local offerings are relevant and actionable. Looking ahead to the New Year, I look forward to the launch of new technologies, websites, and applications and the ways in which marketers/advertisers will harness these mass-communication technologies to promote socializing within one's extended network in the local sphere.
I'm a Millennial and I like to shop, both on- and offline. Of course, marketers and advertisers already know this simple fact. They also know that I have attended university and am just starting out my career, live in an urban-setting with a moderate household income, like to feel good about donating to philanthropic causes, and spend a large amount of time pilfering away on social networking sites. However, do marketers really know why I like to shop? It's all about the experience. Over this last week, I came across not one ' but two ' unique shopping experiences that provided value above-and-beyond the traditional mall excursion or product search online. Last week, Google launched Boutiques.com, a 'personalized shopping experience that lets you find and discover fashion goods through a collection of boutiques curated by taste-makers ' celebrities, stylists, designers, and fashion bloggers.'? The website is built with technology-software that 'learns'? about your style and trend preferences to be able to provide more relevant search results and recommendations over time. The user has the option to create their own boutique, share outfit ideas with friends, leave comments for other fashionistas, and source similar looks within a variety of price ranges. Prior to the launch of Boutiques.com, online shopping could seem like a chore. This is not to say that Google completely revolutionized the online shopping realm; rather the search giant combined the search for and purchasing activities into one, cohesive website. Everyone wins: retailers are able to advertise their products directly to consumers and shoppers have all the necessary tools at their fingertips to stay ahead of the fashion-game. The experience is convenient, easy, and customizable and as a millennial, I appreciate that. My second shopping example is more experiential in the traditional sense, bringing the high-brow fashion of Cynthia Rowley to neighborhoods throughout the United States via a mobile boutique. The fashion truck contains Rowley's entire fall 2010 collection, as well as select pieces from her spring and summer lines. Shoppers have the opportunity to learn of the truck's whereabouts via a live Twitter feed, and can visit the 'shop on wheels'? in their local market for a fun, fashion splurge. With a limited number of stores across the US, the Cynthia Rowley mobile boutique provides shoppers with the opportunity to experience the look-and-feel of the brand. The experience is fun, conversational, and out-of-the-ordinary, enhancing the brand image and helping to establish a positive association in the minds of consumers. As the holiday shopping season is fast-approaching and I'm looking to buy gifts for family and friends ' and to take advantage of those sales to update my own winter wardrobe ' I will be looking for the brands that provide an engaging and memorable shopping experience. I hypothesize that these brands will come out on top in the New Year. After all, it's all about the 'shop-erience.'?
From Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week'?¦ Where exactly do live window-displays fit into the fashion-marketing equation? In my mind, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is synonymous with amazing designers, the hottest trends of the season, live runway shows'?¦ and window-displays? As I was reading this month's BizBash New York, I came across an article titled 'Fashion's Night Out: Retailers Put Text Messages, Showering Models, and Candy in Windows.'? I was struck by the retailers' innovative use of window-displays to engage potential customers and spark WOM ' after all, compelling content is what consumers talk about and what they share with family and friends both on and offline. In my opinion, Daffy's and Gant both did a superb job of creating an unusual window display during this year's Fashion's Night Out. Daffy's transformed their windows into changing rooms and passersby could SMS the models suggestions for outfits. On the other hand, Gant created a working shower in the window of their Fifth Avenue storefront that conveyed a sense of sportiness in-line with their fall collection. Live window-displays, such as the ones that appeared during Fashion Week in NYC, represent a new way of communicating with shoppers; they bring potential customers face-to-face with the brand to create a connection and long-lasting impression. From live entertainment (think cabaret acts and puppetry shows) to styling competitions to unusual demonstrations, it is evident by these interactive displays that decorative windows are a thing of the past. As retail environments become increasingly multi-channel in today's digital world, it is important to incorporate similar engagement and interactive elements throughout all touch-points of the consumer journey. As technological advancements and customer interaction experiences evolve, our expectations as consumers become more complex. Thus, I'd like to raise the question: if a model showering in a retail window-display is not compelling enough content to spark WOM, then what is?!