Inspiration


March 23, 2019:

How Gen Z Influencers Are Shaping Luxury Brand Futures

What possible impact could a teenaged boy have on the fortunes of luxury brands like Gucci (NYSE: GUC), Rolex, and Burberry (NYSE: BRBY)? As I recently learned firsthand, more than you might imagine.

I was packing for a recent business trip when my 15-year-old son appeared in the bedroom doorway, leaned against the jamb, and asked, “Dad, what are you going to be flexin’ in New York?”

“Flexing? You mean going to the gym?”
“No! You know, like how about wearing your GMT Master Batman Rolex? Or get a Gucci belt. Get your flex on, Dad!”
The term was new to me but not to my Gen Z progeny. It appears in rap lyrics and YouTube videos of performers boasting, fanning wads of cash, and other demonstrations of prosperity or bravado. Interesting to know, but not nearly as interesting as the fact that my teenager is embracing the luxury brand ethos and wants to share it, to influence me.
As a provider to retailers of predictive analytics and other tools, this was a fascinating bit of accidental research, the kind that is invisible to data crunching, focus groups, and trend lines. I had the bit of curiosity in my teeth. Not long after, I was at an industry event in Las Vegas and ran into a Wall Street analyst I know. The first things I noticed were his Gucci slip-on loafers, his Gucci blazer, and his designer belt.

Soon after that display of flexing, I had dinner with a twenty-something business news reporter. At one point I asked her, “If I gave you a million dollars to spend on clothes and such, would your first instinct be to spend it on well-known brands?”
Without hesitation, she said, “Absolutely.”
The final bit of evidence that we’re in an uptick in the luxury brand cycle is that after years of “de-branding” that accelerated during the Great Recession, companies like Burberry are re-flexing their brands. For $790, Burberry will sell you a loose-fitting cotton shirt with leather trim and the name “BURBERRY” printed in huge red letters across the chest.

What’s happening here may be as significant as what happened during the late 1970s and into the 1980s, when young urban professionals became Yuppies, drove BMWs, and—in urban centers like New York—shopped at Ralph Lauren (NYSE: RL). Now, as then, young people are putting a high value on status. As a result, Generation Z has become a target for marketers who are aiming via social media at what would seem to be unlikely influencers.
In a feature article last fall the Wall Street Journal profiled such a child, a fourth-grade fashionista named simply Giana (her last name is never used). Gina has an artistic streak, models a line of “streetwear looks,” and posts her photos and likes for more than 20,000 followers on Instagram. She has been recruited by brands like Nike (NYSE: NKE), which is collaborating with her on a line of shoes.

This is a very different world from the one in which most of us came of age. Youngsters like my son are in the first generation that grew up with the Internet, cell phones, etc., and are much savvier than their parents about social media. A chosen few are being recruited by marketers to reach the roughly 67 million Americans who were born between the late 1990s and a few years ago, a group which directly or through parents is estimated to have nearly $45 billion in purchasing power.
More profoundly, it is established social science that affinities developed during childhood are enduring. Baby Boomer boys will recall that Dad’s favorite gas station gave away or sold branded toys, such as miniature gas stations or tanker trucks. When those kids grew up they bought the brand of gas that Dad bought. Gen Z and the brands they are flexing today are shaping the future in a way that’s never before been possible.

There’s another element to this phenomenon that social scientists say we haven’t experienced since the Great Depression. Writing in the Wall Street Journal last September, Janet Adamy, who writes about demographics, observed that the 17 million members of Generation Z who are now adults and starting to enter the workforce, “came of age during recessions, financial crises, war, terror threats, school shootings and under the constant glare of technology and social media.” Adamy suggests that, compared with older population cohorts, they are “more industrious and driven by money,” and thus more attracted to traditional high status, high-perceived-value brands.
In a recent conversation with Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, a research and business solutions firm, he agreed that, “Luxury and prestige logos are back with a vengeance. In today’s luxury world, brand influencer power is often reversed, with connoisseur teens guiding their parents as to which brands are hot, and which ones are not. Whether or not luxury brand stewards realize it, the influential power of Gen Z spans categories and generations”.

Brand managers should be paying close attention to the youngest generation now so that when these influencers become customers and decide to “flex,” the products they fancy are on store shelves or ready to ship. For Gen Z, it will be more important to have the items they want to buy in stock than it is for Millennials and older generations to be offered items that surprise and delight. Where other generations want to stand out, Gen Z consumers tend to want to fit in.

For marketers, trial and error is a risky, inefficient strategy for determining how best to serve this unique market the way it is used to—better and faster. Instead, brand managers need to become more savvy and nimble about leveraging technology and predictive data. There are a number of companies that can help solve this “voice of the customer” challenge. To be competitive in the future, luxury brand executives should be tapping into these predictive resources today.

Author Greg Petro


August 20, 2018:

Corporate Social Responsibility
Anna Bader, German Professional Cliff Diver

South Point, Hawaii - Director Matthias Hoene


April 29, 2018:

Digitization, Digitalization, And Digital Transformation: Confuse Them At Your Peril

As the hype around digital transformation continues to persist, the terms ‘digitization’ and ‘digitalization’ join the fray, increasing the level of hype while adding confusion.

In reality, these three terms have distinct meanings – or at least, we can make them distinct depending on which authority we’re listening to.

This question is more than a semantic exercise, however. In reality, people are confusing them in ways that shortchange the power and importance of digital transformation, thus putting the very survival of their organizations in peril.

Digitization: The Straightforward Term

Digitization essentially refers to taking analog information and encoding it into zeroes and ones so that computers can store, process, and transmit such information.

According to Gartner’s IT Glossary, “Digitization is the process of changing from analog to digital form” – a definition few would disagree with.

There are many examples of digitization in enterprises today, as there have been for many decades. Converting handwritten or typewritten text into digital form is an example of digitization, as is converting the music from an LP or video off of a VHS tape.

In the enterprise context, digitization is important both for dealing with analog information as well as ‘paper-based’ processes – where ‘paper-based’ is nothing more than a metaphor for analog.

It’s important to remember, however, that it’s the information you’re digitizing, not the processes – that’s where digitalization comes in.

Digitalization: Fraught with Ambiguity and Confusion

Unlike digitization, digitalization doesn’t have a single, clear definition. “‘Digitization’ and ‘digitalization’ are two conceptual terms that are closely associated and often used interchangeably in a broad range of literature,” explain J. Scott Brennen, Doctoral Candidate in Communication, and Daniel Kreiss, Associate Professor, both at the University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism. “We refer to digitalization as the way in which many domains of social life are restructured around digital communication and media infrastructures.”

Brennen and Kreiss thus base their definition of digitalization on social life – in other words, how people interact. As such interactions move away from analog technologies (snail mail, telephone calls) to digital ones (email, chat, social media), both work and leisure domains become digitalized.

Gartner also weighs in on this term. “Digitalization is the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities,” according to Gartner’s glossary. “It is the process of moving to a digital business.”

Gartner’s definition is thus quite different from the academics’, focusing on changing business models rather than social interactions.

The Gartner definition, however, does bring up another question – just what is a ‘digital business.’ “Digital business is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds,” Gartner’s glossary espouses.

Unfortunately, this latter definition is hopelessly vague. What is the digital world? What does it mean to ‘blur’ worlds? And for that matter, what is a ‘business design’?

In fact, it appears that Gartner is not of one mind on its definition of digitalization, as a recent Brookings Institute report quotes an entirely different one. “Digitalization, according to Gartner, Inc., is the process of employing digital technologies and information to transform business operations,” according to the report Digitalization and the American Workforce by Mark Muro, senior fellow; Sifan Liu, data analyst; Jacob Whiton, research assistant; and Siddharth Kulkarni, former research analyst; all from the Brookings Institution. Kulkarni is now data science manager at Adobe.

According to this definition, digitalization is more about business operations than either social interactions or business models – although clearly all of these notions are interrelated.

The Brookings report, in fact, focuses on how digitalization impacts people. “Digitalization is transforming the world of work,” according to the report. “The acquisition of digital skills has now become a prerequisite for individual, industry, and regional success.”

As organizations implement ‘digital technologies’ – which in this context really means computers and other information technology – people’s jobs change. Imagine factory workers putting down their hammers and lathes and instead using computer-controlled equipment, for example. According to the Brookings report, such change is at the heart of digitalization.

Automation is a major part of the digitalization story, whether it be shifting work roles or transforming business processes generally. In fact, for many people, digitalization applies primarily to such processes. “Digitalization … increases process efficiency and improves data transparency, and of course, it should help boost your top line,” explain Georg Tacke, CEO, and Annette Ehrhardt, Global Head of Communications & Marketing Senior Director, Simon-Kucher & Partners . “If you operate an online platform, then your company may already be 80 percent digitalized, and you can gain more efficiency or create more customer value by going the remaining 20 percent of the way.”

In this example, implementing the technology behind such an online platform isn’t the digitalization step per se – it’s shifting the business process to such a platform. It seems, therefore, that Gartner’s definition that ties digitalization to business operations is on point, as such operations consist of business processes that digital technologies can transform.

Digital Transformation: Beyond Digitalization

Digitalization, however, is quite distinct from digital transformation.

An organization might undertake a series of digitalization projects, ranging from automating processes to retraining workers to use computers. Digital transformation, in contrast, is not something that enterprises can implement as projects.

Instead, this broader term refers to the customer-driven strategic business transformation that requires cross-cutting organizational change as well as the implementation of digital technologies.

Digital transformation initiatives will typically include several digitalization projects, but executives that believe that there is nothing more to digital transformation than digitalization are making a profound strategic mistake.

In reality, digital transformation requires the organization to deal better with change overall, essentially making change a core competency as the enterprise becomes customer-driven end-to-end. Such agility will facilitate ongoing digitalization initiatives but should not be confused with them.

In the final analysis, therefore, we digitize information, we digitalize processes and roles that make up the operations of a business, and we digitally transform the business and its strategy. Each one is necessary but not sufficient for the next, and most importantly, digitization and digitalization are essentially about technology, but digital transformation is not. Digital transformation is about the customer.

Digitization: The Straightforward Term

Digitization essentially refers to taking analog information and encoding it into zeroes and ones so that computers can store, process, and transmit such information.

According to Gartner’s IT Glossary, “Digitization is the process of changing from analog to digital form” – a definition few would disagree with.

There are many examples of digitization in enterprises today, as there have been for many decades. Converting handwritten or typewritten text into digital form is an example of digitization, as is converting the music from an LP or video off of a VHS tape.

In the enterprise context, digitization is important both for dealing with analog information as well as ‘paper-based’ processes – where ‘paper-based’ is nothing more than a metaphor for analog.

It’s important to remember, however, that it’s the information you’re digitizing, not the processes – that’s where digitalization comes in.

Digitalization: Fraught with Ambiguity and Confusion

Unlike digitization, digitalization doesn’t have a single, clear definition. “‘Digitization’ and ‘digitalization’ are two conceptual terms that are closely associated and often used interchangeably in a broad range of literature,” explain J. Scott Brennen, Doctoral Candidate in Communication, and Daniel Kreiss, Associate Professor, both at the University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism. “We refer to digitalization as the way in which many domains of social life are restructured around digital communication and media infrastructures.”

Brennen and Kreiss thus base their definition of digitalization on social life – in other words, how people interact. As such interactions move away from analog technologies (snail mail, telephone calls) to digital ones (email, chat, social media), both work and leisure domains become digitalized.

Gartner also weighs in on this term. “Digitalization is the use of digital technologies to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-producing opportunities,” according to Gartner’s glossary. “It is the process of moving to a digital business.”

Gartner’s definition is thus quite different from the academics’, focusing on changing business models rather than social interactions.

The Gartner definition, however, does bring up another question – just what is a ‘digital business.’ “Digital business is the creation of new business designs by blurring the digital and physical worlds,” Gartner’s glossary espouses.

Unfortunately, this latter definition is hopelessly vague. What is the digital world? What does it mean to ‘blur’ worlds? And for that matter, what is a ‘business design’?

In fact, it appears that Gartner is not of one mind on its definition of digitalization, as a recent Brookings Institute report quotes an entirely different one. “Digitalization, according to Gartner, Inc., is the process of employing digital technologies and information to transform business operations,” according to the report Digitalization and the American Workforce by Mark Muro, senior fellow; Sifan Liu, data analyst; Jacob Whiton, research assistant; and Siddharth Kulkarni, former research analyst; all from the Brookings Institution. Kulkarni is now data science manager at Adobe.

According to this definition, digitalization is more about business operations than either social interactions or business models – although clearly all of these notions are interrelated.

The Brookings report, in fact, focuses on how digitalization impacts people. “Digitalization is transforming the world of work,” according to the report. “The acquisition of digital skills has now become a prerequisite for individual, industry, and regional success.”

As organizations implement ‘digital technologies’ – which in this context really means computers and other information technology – people’s jobs change. Imagine factory workers putting down their hammers and lathes and instead using computer-controlled equipment, for example. According to the Brookings report, such change is at the heart of digitalization.

Automation is a major part of the digitalization story, whether it be shifting work roles or transforming business processes generally. In fact, for many people, digitalization applies primarily to such processes. “Digitalization … increases process efficiency and improves data transparency, and of course, it should help boost your top line,” explain Georg Tacke, CEO, and Annette Ehrhardt, Global Head of Communications & Marketing Senior Director, Simon-Kucher & Partners . “If you operate an online platform, then your company may already be 80 percent digitalized, and you can gain more efficiency or create more customer value by going the remaining 20 percent of the way.”

In this example, implementing the technology behind such an online platform isn’t the digitalization step per se – it’s shifting the business process to such a platform. It seems, therefore, that Gartner’s definition that ties digitalization to business operations is on point, as such operations consist of business processes that digital technologies can transform.

Digital Transformation: Beyond Digitalization

Digitalization, however, is quite distinct from digital transformation.

An organization might undertake a series of digitalization projects, ranging from automating processes to retraining workers to use computers. Digital transformation, in contrast, is not something that enterprises can implement as projects.

Instead, this broader term refers to the customer-driven strategic business transformation that requires cross-cutting organizational change as well as the implementation of digital technologies.

Digital transformation initiatives will typically include several digitalization projects, but executives that believe that there is nothing more to digital transformation than digitalization are making a profound strategic mistake.

In reality, digital transformation requires the organization to deal better with change overall, essentially making change a core competency as the enterprise becomes customer-driven end-to-end. Such agility will facilitate ongoing digitalization initiatives but should not be confused with them.

In the final analysis, therefore, we digitize information, we digitalize processes and roles that make up the operations of a business, and we digitally transform the business and its strategy. Each one is necessary but not sufficient for the next, and most importantly, digitization and digitalization are essentially about technology, but digital transformation is not. Digital transformation is about the customer.

Author Jason Bloomberg

December 26, 2017:

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

One of our favourite meeting points: The Interalpen Hotel Tyrol, Telfs Austria

To chill (English: cool, cool down; in American slang also: calm down, relax, hang around, hang out) is a term taken from English usage.

It is mainly used in today's youth language for "relax" ("chill out!" instead of "calm down!") or "hang out" ("let's chill out!").

Over time, various variations of the term "chill" have been developed, such as German: "chillig", "Chiller", "gechillt" or "Chillaui". "Chilling" has meanwhile also become more generally established for activities that are mostly relaxing, passive and associated with pleasure ("chilling on the sofa“, "chilling and snacking", "relaxing", recently also to be found as a suitcase word in the German: "chillaxen")

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