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If you’re curious, the “How Might We…” (HMW) framework for creative problem solving originates back to the work of Sidney J. Parnes, Ph.D, in his Creative Behavior Guidebook published in 1967. Dr. Parnes referred to the framework as “Invitation Stems” or “How Mights”. Dr. Parnes' work also led to the additional questions of “How might I?”, “How might you?”, “How might our team?”, and “How might our customers?”. Today, HMW remains one of the most powerful tools for kicking off a process of “challenge mapping.” “How might we…” is the kind of question that lacks hard requirements at first and can feel unanswerable. However, if you get the right people engaged, the answers that surface will lead to progress. How does AmpXD tackle HMW Questions? We start by making sure that the whole team understands the question and starts on common footing. Some follow up questions may be necessary. Have we answered an HMW question like this for other clients or internally at AMP? Can we rely on past experience or will the answer require us to build from scratch? What perspectives will be required to generate the right answer? Engineering? Design? Content? Business objectives? Next, we assemble the team. The best HMW teams represent all who stand to benefit from the answer as well as those who could help us get there. They are a cross section of the organization as well as users, customers, and subject matter experts. Whether you use an agency like AMP or decide to go it alone, there are a few key attributes that each team member must have. Each team member needs to be open, have broad and relevant expertise, and be fearless about sharing ideas and opinions in public. The last consideration for a successful outcome is access. The team will need access to: One another Leadership Information Insight into what is possible. Now that the team is assembled, what can we expect? Answers! If you’ve done the work to fully understand the question, assemble the right team, and provide access to resources, you can expect progress. Once we have a set of answers to our HMW question, we can start to sift for the right one. Each answer must be measured against cost and timeline estimates. If you’ve come to the right answer, everyone will know it. If you don’t find the right answer, often you’ll be left with a new, better HMW question to work with.
AMP Agency, a full-service digital marketing agency, has acquired Genome, an award-winning digital innovation, transformation and product development company. The addition of Genome will further AMP’s strategy to advance technology-enabled innovation and grow internationally. “Our technology practice has become a valuable resource for clients. It was clear from the start that Genome would bring necessary skill sets, so the acquisition felt natural. The addition of the Genome team’s expertise and its capabilities take our offerings to a new level.” said Michael Mish, President of AMP Agency Genome CEO Matt Fitz-Henry will serve as senior vice president of technology for AMP Agency, with the primary objective of building innovative technical solutions for clients. Genome’s Executive Vice President and General Manager Nate Herr will serve as senior vice president, technology services. Read the full press release here.
Understanding Web 3.0: Your Guide to NFTs and Guide to the Metaverse What is an NFT? A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique digital asset. NFTs are not interchangeable, and each one is unique. NFTs can be used to represent items such as digital art, collectibles, and in-game items. What is the metaverse? The metaverse is a term used to describe the virtual world in which people can interact with each other and with digital objects in a realistic way. the metaverse is a natural extension of web 3.0, which is the next stage of the internet. Web 3.0 is often described as a more user-friendly and interactive internet, where users can easily connect and share information. What is Web 3.0? In the vein of Web 2.0, Web 3.0 refers to the next generation of the internet. It is expected to be more interactive, intelligent, and user-friendly than Web 2.0. Some of the technologies that are often associated with Web 3.0 include artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and blockchain. How are NFTs used in the Metaverse? Since Web 3.0 is still in its infancy the relationship between the metaverse and NFTs is still be explored and in many ways, created. NFTs could be used to create and represent virtual assets in the metaverse, or they could be used to create unique, one-of-a-kind experiences that can be shared and experienced by people in the metaverse. A major difference between early metaverses and the web 3.0 metaverse will be the widespread presence of virtual currencies, digital tokens, and NFTs. How to create an NFT? There are a few different ways to create an NFT, but the easiest way is to use a service like Decentraland. These platforms allow you to create and manage your own digital assets, and they also provide a marketplace where you can buy and sell NFTs. The general steps that go into the creation of an NFT will differ as platforms evolve but usually: The artist creates a digital or physical piece of art The artist submits the artwork to a minting service or platform. The minting service or platform verifies the authenticity of the artwork. The minting service or platform mints the artwork into an NFT. The NFT is stored on a blockchain and can be bought, sold, or traded like any other cryptocurrency. How to buy NFTs? NFTs can be bought in a variety of ways, including online marketplaces, online auctions, and directly from the creators themselves. Some of the most popular NFT marketplaces include OpenSea, Rarible, and SuperRare. To buy an NFT, you will need to create an account on one of these marketplaces and deposit cryptocurrency into your account or contact a creator directly to exchange crypto wallet addresses. How to sell an NFT? The process to sell and NFT is similar to the buying process. Generally the most common way to sell an NFT is through an online marketplace. There are a number of online platforms that allow you to list and sell your NFTs, and the most popular ones include OpenSea, Rarible, and SuperRare. When listing your NFT for sale, you will need to set a price and provide a description. It is also a good idea to include a link to the digital file so potential buyers can preview it. Best NFT marketplace? While there are many to choose from, as of 2022 OpenSea is the largest and most popular NFT marketplace with over 2 million users. It has a wide range of NFTs available for sale, including art, collectibles, and gaming items. OpenSea also has a built-in wallet so you can store your NFTs in one place. How to buy land in the metaverse? The best way to buy land in the metaverse will vary depending on the specific virtual world you are interested in. However, generally when buying metaverse land you should do your research and make sure you understand the virtual world you are interested in and the process for buying property within that world. Also remember never to spend more than you can afford on metaverse land. Should you invest in the metaverse? Some people believe that the metaverse will be a powerful and influential force in the future, while others believe that it is nothing more than a fad. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not to invest in the metaverse. However, it is worth remembering that there is singular metaverse, so while the concept may gain more widespread adoption your favorite metaverse could fail and stop existing. How to make money with NFT? There are a few ways to make money with NFTs. The most common is to create and sell them. You can also earn royalties from selling NFTs, or from having your NFTs used in games or other applications. Finally, you can earn interest on your NFTs by holding them in a wallet that supports NFTs.
Podcasts are a rapidly growing platform but still feel like a new frontier for advertisers. AMP Media Director Shoshana Przybylinski discussed her podcast ad-buying experience in Marketing Brew’s recent piece, ‘The host-read ad is still king, but podcast advertisers are experimenting with programmatic ads.’ “Shoshana Przybylinski, media director at AMP Agency, says she still buys a lot of podcast ads directly—with no tech involved—depending on the client. ‘It really depends…If [the client is] local, we’ll typically buy through a network or programmatically, just because we can’t waste any media dollars on something that’s going to run nationally,” Przybylinski said. “So that’s definitely when we would lean more towards the network buying. But sometimes you do want that host connection, and that’s when you would go to the show directly’.” Get up-to-date on the great podcast push by reading the full story here.
How the first impression a brand makes on social is similar to online dating: Online dating… It's an often-times scary place for newcomers and people who want to find a connection. Similarly, social media is oftentimes a scary place for brands that are looking to make a splash, tell their stories and create longtime, engaged customers. But how do you do this? It’s all about the first impression, and then, of course, keeping people interested. And more importantly, sharing interesting and entertaining content that either sparks joy or inspires the audience to want to know more. It’s all about the first impression People put a lot of effort into their online dating profile, showcasing their interests, and selecting the best photos that show off a full life. When you think about a brand’s social media presence, are the best images being shared? How do you want the audience to feel when they view the content? Is the brand showcasing a lifestyle that is aspirational and grabs interest? Can the audience visualize the product or service in their life at first glance? Can you think of the last ad or content on social from a brand that made you think “Wow, that was funny” or “I need that product in my life”? Whatever it was, try to evoke that same feeling in any ideas or strategy. Is the content conversational? On a dating profile, the hope is that the profile info is interesting enough to grab someone’s attention so they *swipe right*, so to speak. On social, there’s a difference between talking at the audience and inspiring engagement, whether through a like or comment. Nobody likes being talked at or told to buy something they might not need. It doesn’t feel authentic and it doesn’t spark a 1:1 conversation. When you look at other brands, are their captions engaging? Is it only informative and robotic, or is it playful and humanized? Nobody wants to date a robot. Swiping right vs. hitting follow on social: With online dating, the goal is to get people to swipe right on your profile and be interested enough to send a message. For brands, the goal is to get people to hit follow and engage on a regular basis. If a brand’s not getting any engagement or steady follower growth, the question could be asked: Is this content boring? Is there anything interesting enough that inspires people to follow? Keeping your followers interested If someone is dating you, they have decided they find you interesting enough to want to be more immersed in your life and interests. Similar to a brand’s social media, once the first impression is nailed with a following, the real work comes in by knowing how to keep them interested. If someone is following a brand, they likely know what the products are or what the brand is all about. So, how do brands keep them interested as time goes on, knowing they already know the brand? New product launches, new special features, and staying up to date on all the latest and greatest ways to make content (*cough, cough* TikTok). Also, consistency. Is the brand trustworthy? Similar to dating, would you introduce the brand to your friends? These two things go hand in hand.
Store closures. Bankruptcy filings. A mall turned ghost town. For nearly a decade, we have been told that brick-and-mortar retail is dying, and have seen the effects with our own eyes. Yet at the same time, digitally native brands are venturing offline. New store concepts are popping up with fresh takes on the in-store experience. Physical retail is in fact making many valiant and creative attempts to adapt rather than succumb to inevitable death. And while industry coverage highlights how businesses hope to profit from their ingenious new take on retail, as I read article after article I was left wondering: what about the customer? So, I set out on an ambitious shopping experiment to test the most innovative ways you can buy a sweater in New York City. What does this innovation feel like for me, in a world where so much of my shopping behavior has moved online? Turns out, my exposure to brands on social media made it almost impossible to aimlessly browse without carrying preconceived notions. With browsing and discovery happening online, brick-and-mortar stores are no longer about “shopping” in the traditional sense – they're about a focused hunt for a specific product or a memorable experience. Naadam: The Fast Transaction Store Naadam has two stores in NYC: “The $75 Sweater Store,” which only sells the brand’s iconic $75 cashmere sweater (or, as Glossy calls it, a “hero product”), and another store ten blocks away which offers the larger collection of apparel. I visited both stores, and purchased from the former. At “The $75 Sweater Store,” my shopping experience was efficient: the store was the size of a hallway, there were three clothing racks with the $75 sweaters hanging, one dressing room, and one largely-silent sales associate. While I wouldn’t call it “shopping” – there was no thrill of combing through racks – the transaction was refreshing in its own way. As I had already been exposed to the sweater online, I knew what I wanted and my time in-store simply felt like I was running an errand to pick it up – confirming through touch and a quick try-on that what I had seen online was indeed what I wanted to purchase. For this reason, it makes sense why the store experiences are separated – one drives the quick and easy sale, while the other promotes discovery and a deeper relationship with the brand. Top: “These are seventy five dollar cashmere sweaters” - the neon sign at Naadam’s “The $75 Sweater Store” ensures their store concept is crystal clear; Bottom: My ($75) sweater purchase, wrapped in paper printed with the care instructions. Modcloth: The Stylist Store Modcloth’s physical locations are branded as “FitShops,” where customers work with stylists to pick and try on outfits and then have them shipped home. From an operational perspective, this is ideal – because associates don’t need to house and manage inventory, the brand can rent much smaller retail locations, and associates can exercise their talents in styling customers rather than sorting product. While I was there, I witnessed a stylist speaking with a woman who wasn’t sure if an item she was trying on was flattering. The stylist was holding a tablet open to modcloth.com, and was showing the shopper other similar styles to consider. This level of one-on-one attention is working – Modcloth customers using stylists are currently converting at 90%, compared to around 25% for those who don’t. While I myself didn’t end purchasing anything, my willingness to visit again definitely increased – Modcloth’s ability to seamlessly weave in-person interaction with the benefits of ecommerce felt like a value-add that could never be achieved by simply shopping from my couch. Prompts throughout the dressing room encourage shoppers to book appointments with stylists, from providing the booking URL as a sticker on the mirror (Top) to coupon cards offering 15% off all purchases when you book (Bottom). Lingua Franca: The Courageous Customizer The hand-stitched cashmere sweater company Lingua Franca has found their niche in stitching custom phrases, especially liberal political statements (e.g. “Bad hombre” and “Blessed be the refugees”). I was visiting the store to make a statement of my own, planning on designing a sweater with one of the brand’s more popular phrases, “I miss Barack,” in the colors of my choosing. Before arrival, I was unsure whether the store was built with customization in mind, but I was pleasantly surprised to experience intense collaboration and interactivity. It was a true team process as the associate pulled sizes for me to try and brought photos up online to help me envision various sweater color / thread color combinations. Lingua Franca is so clear about who they are and what they believe in as a brand. And due to a made-to-order business model with sweaters as the hero, the store, like Naadam’s “The $75 Sweater Store” or Modcloth, is fairly easy to operate. They can instead turn the space into a little jewel box for declaring their brand identity and building relationships. As a customer, I felt like I was joining a tribe of like-minded individuals while also enjoying the satisfaction of a personalized piece. Top: A corner of the Lingua Franca store; Middle: thread is laid out and customers are provided with a card of popular phrases to help with customization; Bottom: My sweater arrives at home. Showfields: An Experience to Instagram I had to conclude my sweater excursion with a trip to Showfields, after reading an article declaring it “the department store of the future.” Showfields describes themselves as “the most interesting store in the world” and “an immersive theater experience that bridges art and retail.” To be honest, the mystical vagueness of it all made me a little nervous. While there, I walked through various conjoining spaces, each temporarily owned by a brand and beautifully decorated with the help of Showfields to tell that brand’s story – Boodles Gin and Book of the Month created a library lounge area, and DTC toilet paper brand No. 2 took over the public restrooms (naturally.) It all felt a bit awkward and confusing. My mind raced with questions such as, Am I allowed to touch everything? (Yes.) Where do I try stuff on? (The one fitting room, disguised to look like a shipping container.) How do you pay? (Approach one of the associates/docents who check you out on the spot using a mobile device.) It looks like I’m the only one actually shopping – how in the world does Showfields make money? (Brands pay $4000+/month for the exposure, without much expectation of actually selling anything.) I eye-rolled a lot, stopped in a few corners to take photos, and seemed to be the only person around who bought anything – in a space that was seemingly built for Instagramming, I ultimately felt uncomfortable making my purchase. Top: One of the brand’s spaces, produced to look like a bodega; Middle: One of the many corners seemingly designed for Instagramming; Bottom: My purchase, a sweater with a print of two romantic robots In the words of President Lincoln, four stores and several sweaters ago… If online shopping has evolved in-person shopping into a focused hunt for a specific product or memorable experience, three things need to happen: The brick and mortar concept must be unique and play a clear role or provide specific value to shoppers that they couldn’t get at home. Brands must then use their digital marketing channels to set clear expectations of what the store experience will be like, build excitement for that experience, and drive foot traffic. Ecommerce, digital marketing, and physical retail must continue working together to learn and optimize towards the most positive customer experience possible. Ultimately, retailers need to ensure that their brand personality shines through their store concept. By thinking of the space as a magnet that will attract and build relationships with “on brand” consumers, it expands the definition of a “store” from a place that encourages a sale, into a marketing platform that ultimately helps visitors align themselves with a brand and its values as they search for, Snapchat, and shop the space.
In 2019, the Strategy team at AMP went on a mission to better understand marketers’ most sought-after consumer segments. Each week, individuals from these segments took over @AMP_Agency Instagram stories to give us a peek into their world as part of our digital ethnography series, “Through Their Eyes.” To wrap up the series, we took the opportunity to celebrate different cultures, and saw Thanksgiving from the perspective of Alicia’s family, from Guangzhou in China, Dana’s family, from Calabria in Italy, and Andronaelle’s family, from Les Cayes in Haiti. If you surveyed all Americans and asked them what the most American holiday was, our bets are on either the Fourth of July – naturally, it’s our birthday – or Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a celebration of the most American Americanisms: apple pie, lively family debates, and the NFL. Yet, we must not forget that our country is projected to be “minority white” within the next 25 years, and the very definition of what it means to be American looks quite different depending on who you ask. So, on the day that maxes out on all things America, we decided to celebrate what might be the most American Americanism of all: our diversity and our rich, beautiful variety of cultural traditions. We encountered mouth-watering food. While all of our participants still made a turkey, there was also incredible, delectable variety in the accompanying dishes served. Alicia’s family ate prime rib, grilled octopus, and steamed shrimp. Dana’s family had salad with homemade vinegar and drank homemade wine, and Andronaelle’s family had mac and cheese as well as traditional black rice. Top to Bottom: Alicia’s mom made comforting doughy rice ball soup; Andronaelle’s auntie utilized traditional Haitian seasonings in all dishes; Dana’s family tossed salad in homemade vinegar. Matriarchs were celebrated. All of our participants took time in their Instagram Stories to honor the matriarch of the family. Alicia’s family made sure to cook their grandmother’s favorite dish, pork knuckle and lotus stew. Andronaelle wrote about her Auntie Marie, “the matriarch and the best cook in the family,” and many of Dana’s Stories featured her nonna, who kept busy peeling potatoes, greeting guests, and playing games. (We’ll get to the games below!) Top to Bottom: Alicia’s family makes sure to cook their grandmother’s favorite dish; Everyone gathers at Auntie Marie’s immediately after breakfast; Nonna and Dana share a selfie Fun was had. A lot of fun. Most of all, what we could truly sense through these Stories was the sheer fun, and dare we say craziness, that ensues when large families reunite for Thanksgiving. For Alicia’s family, even the morning food prep is made fun, as they make a tradition out of picking up dim sum takeout from Chinatown each Thanksgiving morning. Andronaelle’s family took a big group photo and had the little ones pose for pictures. Dana even convinced two nonnas at the party to play a round of beer pong – the nonnas surprised with a sneaky bounce play that forced their opponents to take two cups off the table. Top to Bottom: The fun starts early at Alicia’s over morning dim sum takeout; Thanksgiving is a time to compare how much the cousins have grown at Andronaelle’s; Two Italian nonnas were shockingly skilled at beer pong And so our “Through Their Eyes” series concludes. This year, we started our Instagram ethnography series with Gen Z college students, moved into soon-to-be-wed millennials, and then millennial moms. Each time, walking in a segment’s shoes for the day revealed surprising insight that’s useful to brands: Gen Z kept themselves dizzyingly busy and are motivated by hustle, soon-to-be-wed’s use food as a vehicle for expressing and celebrating the love they have for their partners, and millennial moms have much more of a sense of humor than marketers would lead you to believe. Yet it’s perhaps fitting that we ended with multicultural Thanksgiving celebrations, and the reminder that despite how different we ensured our participants were – Chinese, Italian, and Haitian – what came through most strongly were the values that we all share, despite “segment” or ethnicity or age or what have you: an obsession with food, a respect for our elders, and the chaotic fun that ensues when we’re all together.
The Strategy team at AMP is on a mission to better understand marketers’ most sought-after consumer segments. Each week, individuals from these segments take over @AMP_Agency Instagram stories to give us a peek into their world as part of our digital ethnography series, “Through Their Eyes.” Throughout the fall, we focused on millennial moms to babies and/or toddlers and saw the world from the perspective of Caitlin, mom to Ridley (almost 5) and Elliot (2), Alessandra, mom to Mila (almost 2), Victoria, mom to Mason (3 months), and Monica, mom to Jack (3) and Tucker (8 months). A year ago, I remember a colleague at AMP Agency, a mom to two youngins, declared she was tired of mom marketing. Her argument was that companies like to make motherhood seem like a total chore, and try to relate to mothers by acknowledging how hard it all is. She said that most brands failed to also recognize the pure fun of it all. As we followed our four moms for this ethnography series, we certainly saw a lot of chaos and business, but, luckily, we also got to see that fun shine through. Let’s dive into our evidence – those real mommy moments, taken directly from their phones. There is no blessing quite like the drive-through. While it’s safe to assume that most moms rely on coffee, we were surprised to see so many moms actually snapping from the Starbucks or Dunkin’ drive-through. More often than not, the kids were in tow in the backseat. Not only does the drive-through provide Mom with the caffeine she needs, it serves many other functional benefits, from avoiding buckling in and out of car seats, not disturbing coveted naps, and providing fun chat time between mom and child(ren). Brands with drive-throughs should find ways to celebrate this cherished time in the car, perhaps by designing games for kids in their app, or designating a few days a year to “surprise and delight” families who pull up with kids in the backseat. L to R: Alessandra excitedly enjoys her first sips; Mason peacefully sleeps as Victoria sits in the Dunkin’ drive-through; Caitlin and her boys have some fun while waiting in line Whether multi-tasking, hurrying, or wading through the backlog, each day is a new race. To no one’s surprise, moms are really busy. From multiple kids to multiple jobs, they’re juggling a lot. What was evidenced from our Instagram Stories, though, was an optimistic, “go with the flow” attitude rarely seen in stereotypical depictions of moms. Whether they were distracting their kids with toys to finally load the dishwasher, rushing through a shower before their infant cried, or not getting to the breakfast dishes until 2 pm, brands should take note of the light-hearted tone of their chaotic Stories, including their use of stickers and emojis, which proves they’re willing to shrug their shoulders and say “c’est la vie” with a smile, rather than with frizzy hair and a scowl. L to R: Caitlin’s boys play with Play-Doh as she cleans up the kitchen; Victoria humorously writes a how-to guide on showering with a newborn; Monica finally tackles the dishes as her kids nap Sneaking in “me time” is necessary – not just as a mom, but as a woman. Moms realize that to show up for their families everyday, they need to take care of themselves too. While it may only be for a few minutes or at odd hours of the day, brands should consider how they themselves can support women’s efforts to recharge. Yes, this may be by finding ways to make chores easier and faster, but outside of their duties, moms’ needs as holistic humans should also be acknowledged and prioritized. L to R: Victoria sneaks in a little reality TV as she pumps; Monica finds an hour for a pedicure; Alessandra winds down after a long day by digging into “Call Me By Your Name” Moms have a sense of humor. Let’s say it again: MOMS HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR! When we think of moms, especially in the media, certain stereotypes may come to mind: the nagging mom, the strict mom, the overly sentimental mom. If we learned anything from this ethnography series, it’s that moms don’t always take themselves too seriously. They laugh at themselves, and they laugh at the dumb stuff their kids do everyday. While they love and protect fiercely, they’re also willing to have an innocent chuckle at their kids’ expense: Alessandra laughed upon discovering her daughter perched on a shelf as if it were a chair, while Caitlin tried her best to be “sympathetic” as her son started to cry that the wet playground slide had made his pants damp. We certainly appreciate our moms’ senses of humor as they let us follow them during this series! L to R: Caitlin and her kids play “Restaurant” at the park; Alessandra can’t help but laugh as Mila steals her glasses and “tries them on”; Victoria plays everyone’s favorite game – “Put The Binky In, Spit The Binky Out”
The Strategy team at AMP is on a mission to better understand marketers’ most sought-after consumer segments. Each week, individuals from these segments take over @AMP_Agency Instagram stories to give us a peek into their world as part of our digital ethnography series, “Through Their Eyes.” Throughout June and July, we focused on millennials who are in the midst of planning their weddings and saw the world from the perspective of Jillian from Allentown, PA, Casey from Chicago, and Haley and John from Boston. As marketers, we frequently consider how to reach and resonate with our audiences during times of pivotal life moments. This month, we decided to focus on the time leading up to what is often considered to be the “most important day of your life” – your wedding day. How are engaged millennials posting on their Instagram Stories during this time? What do they consider to be the elements of their day worth showcasing? Keep reading to find out. The way to the heart is still through the stomach Yes, learning to co-manage meal routines is integral to cohabitating (see our earlier Grocery Diaries reflection for more here), but our participants’ Stories also reminded us that sharing meals together is still the perfect setting for creating memories as a couple. Food is especially important to Haley and John, as they met at culinary school, and their Stories showed the small ways in which food helps them “play house” as a couple and demonstrate their care for one another: John made Haley breakfast, while Haley texted John a photo of the quiche she was making for him in turn later that day. Food also plays a role beyond the day-to-day drudgery, as we saw Jillian and her fiancé’s spread at a taco date night, as well as Casey and her fiancé posing at the dinner table during their friend’s wedding reception. The New York Times understands the hecticness of this time in fiancés’ lives and the power of food to force a couple to slow down and enjoy each other – in their robust How to Plan a Wedding guide, they even go so far as to instruct the reader to take a break from wedding plan and go on a date. There’s opportunity for brands in relevant industries like food, restaurant, and grocery to remind millennials at the wedding planning stage that they deserve a break. Food is love: (L to R) John cooks Haley breakfast, Jillian enjoys date night, and Casey poses at the dinner table during her friend’s wedding reception. Everyone else in their life is getting married and having babies too While culture likes to romanticize weddings as a time to completely celebrate oneself and one’s partner, in reality this time is extra stressful because fiancés aren’t just planning their own affairs – they’re spending considerable time and money attending and participating in their millennial friends’ similar milestones and events. While the average wedding in 2019 cost almost $39,000, nearly 20% of millennials say they’ve also spent $1,000+ to attend a friend’s wedding. In fact, our soon-to-be-Mrs. Casey, chose to take over our Story on a day when she was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding. We followed as she got ready (in matching wedding tribe tees), put on her bridesmaid dress, and enjoyed the beautiful venue. While it was undoubtedly a day filled with love and memories, we were reminded that in an already financially-stressful time, wedding expenses go beyond those for a bride and groom’s own big day. While financial tools like Ellevest for wealth management or The Knot for wedding planning help fiancés save for a wedding and keep an event budget, brands like these could expand their offerings by helping millennials also account for the money they need to save in order to participate in friends’ celebrations in the same time period. While planning their own weddings, brides and grooms may also be participating in – and budgeting for – friends’ marital events. Every fun wedding extra, like Bride Tribe t-shirts, should be factored into budgets for brides, grooms, and members of the wedding party. “I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!” At the end of the day, our Millennial Fiancés warmed our hearts. (And maybe that’s because of the prolific use of heart emojis, gifs, and stickers they used on their Stories.) By following the days of Jillian, Casey, and Haley and John, one couldn’t help but sense the wave of positive energy that comes over an engaged couple during this exciting time in their lives. And while the “big” moments, like Jillian’s wedding band shopping, surely set off a surge of emotion, Instagram Stories also continues to be an arena for sharing all the “small” details that might make a fiancé smile when spending the day with the one they love, like Jillian taking her partner to the site of her childhood summer camp, or Haley driving John to work. When brands speak with millennials, who are likely in the midst of major life events, they shouldn’t forget utilizing imagery and copy that also celebrates everyday life and the small moments that make it all worth it. Don’t forget the small stuff: While Instagram is of course ideal for posting about big milestones, like Jillian’s wedding band shopping (L), you can also feel couples’ excitement as they experience “regular” days with their partner.
The 21st century food shopping experience is all about efficiently streamlining tasks. This is evident not just through significant investments in eCommerce, but also through the rise in delivery service offerings. Online food delivery is booming in particular — the number of Americans who have ordered food online has grown from 17 to 24 percent in the past year. With so many options available, I grew curious about the details differentiating each app’s respective shopping experience. I decided to order from a different app each day for four days, journaling my thoughts while munching on salad one day and sipping soup the next. Convenience means comfort — especially for online food delivery It was a Wednesday night, and I had ordered a soup from my favorite restaurant, eager to maximize my comfiness after a tiring day. After two respective days of UberEats and Postmates, I had settled into a pleasant routine of online food ordering. When I saw that my “Dasher” (of the DoorDash app) had arrived, I summoned up the strength to pause my show, leave my couch, and walk to the door. After receiving my food, I collapsed back on the couch. Upon opening the bag, however, I was disappointed to find that there was no spoon for my soup. I sighed, paused Mad Men, turned on the lights, and made my way to the kitchen. I thought back. Did I forget to indicate that I wanted utensils? Was there a field that suggested including them? Perhaps an “add note” section? Pictured: my squash soup and the accompanying slices of bread. Peeking out in the top right is the infamous spoon from my kitchen. Brand takeaway: My primary reason for ordering food delivery wasn’t just about convenience - I had a vision of curling up in front of a show in my pajamas, and treating myself to minimal movement and maximal indulgence. While the spoon debacle wasn’t catastrophic, it interrupted that vision. If delivery services can identify the true need-states they fulfil, they can better cater to them — and ensure that shoppers have the most seamless ordering experience as possible. Trusting tech is hard. Inputting one’s preferences on an app — without any human interaction — leaves room for doubt. What if the kitchen messes up my order or the app glitches? What if the driver doesn’t get my note to come up to the 8th floor of my office building? I sat in my office’s lobby, this last question lingering in my mind. I saw on the Postmates tracking system that my driver was “here,” but I didn’t see him. Did my Postmate leave the food in the downstairs lobby? Was he in the elevator? Was he waiting for me to meet him outside? After a few minutes, I gave up, went down 8 floors, and saw my food waiting for me at the front desk. The receipt taped to my salad didn’t have the full address I wrote in the app, which included “AMP Agency, 8th floor.” Brand takeaway: Two-way communication is key. As technologically advanced as today’s shopping experience is, there’s always room for error when relaying information. Shoppers will naturally worry about an app acting as a middleman between them and their food. To lessen this worry delivery services can assure the shopper that their unique details have been “seen” by their driver, maybe even sending them a notification of a “read receipt.” It feels good to feel heard. Scrolling through DoorDash’s restaurant options, I hoped to see the bahn mi sandwich cafe just a couple miles away. I searched for “Vietnamese.” It appeared, alongside a button that said “request,” suggesting an option to add the restaurant to DoorDash’s offerings. Wow, I thought. They care about what I want! A screenshot of me single-handedly bettering Boston’s bahn mi delivery scene. Brand takeaway: No reasonable customer expects for a food delivery app to mirror their every preference. A small gesture that acknowledges a shopper’s wants (accompanied with the hope of fulfilling them), validates the shopper. This subtle approach to customer satisfaction allows the shopper to feel both that their opinion matters, and that the app genuinely wishes to improve its service. Superlatives Like many consumers, I honed my preferences by trying multiple services. I like to think that I’m now qualified enough to assign (subjective) superlatives to each app’s respective customer experience. Best delivery time predictor: UberEats Of all the apps, UberEats was the only one that didn’t adjust its delivery time, estimating the total cooking and delivery time very well. Would recommend for squeezing meals in between meetings. Best first-delivery perks: Doordash I still don’t understand whether I stumbled upon some month-of-July promotion or if the first delivery fee is always waived. Regardless, my frugal self was pleased at this opportunity to save some money. Best notification experience: Grubhub While some apps blasted my phone with notifications via app, email, and text, Grubhub let me manually input how I wished to be notified upon arrival of my food. I typed “please call when you’re outside” and my request was fulfilled. A blank canvas for notification preferences Best delivery flexibility: Postmates Free delivery if I join a “party?” By. All. Means. Postmates’s “party” option allows one’s delivery to be pooled with others in the area. The catch: delivery time could be as long as an hour. Without pressing appointments, party-ing is a lovely option to save on delivery costs. Extrovert, introvert, dancer – or not – Postmates has a “party” for all. Most likely to use again: UberEats A delivery fee cheaper than others, many restaurant options, and a familiar GPS format (I take the occasional Uber, so I’m biased), UberEats is my food delivery app of choice. Bonus perks: The UberRewards program. With every eligible meal and Uber ride, I get points that I can use for either.