Tuesday, March 21, 2017

VR for Women's Empowerment: KAGIDER (Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey) Luncheon Speech

I had the honor and pleasure of attending a luncheon, hosted by Burcu Mirza, with board members of KAGIDER (Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey) who were in town for meetings at the UN. KAGIDER has an amazing mentorship program where they coach select young, low-income, high-potential women seeking employment and entrepreneurship. Their graduates change their (and their community's) destiny by either starting their own businesses or becoming successful at firms they join. KAGIDER leaders cited research pointing to millions of young women of employment age in emerging countries, who are neither able to pursue education, nor find employment. KAGIDER's work is to address this problem. Below is what I shared as my point of view on emerging technology and communication trends, which lead to a dynamic discussion on how these technologies can be used in educating and giving employment skills to young women.

Whatever the technology label might be, we have transcended into post-reality era.
A time when we believe what technology tells us more so than what we see in front of us. For instance, believing our GPS more than the traffic coming towards us on a one-lane street. Or, when children say good bye to Google Home when leaving the apartment.  

There are a few technologies that are driving our post-reality vision as ‘under currents’:
1.       With technologies such as VR and AR, this post-reality vision becomes more immersive and believable. And truth/experiences vary by each viewer not the director or the editor. Before we were told stories by movie directors, news anchors, journalists… Today viewers can look ever which way when immersed in a VR story. We choose the angle in which we’ll take that story – being our own editors.  

2.       Voice activation (e.g., Alexa, Echo, Siri, Adobe’s voice based photo editing technology) humanizes automation, IoT and other connected devices. They induce emotion and forge relations between humans and AI. (Students in a NY State University hacked Alexa to break up with it… some classmates who heard about the break up expressed concern. Post reality experience in this case is heightened by voice and emotion.)

Some companies are taking advantage of this technology in creative ways: eBay is offering VR experience in shops, Google is partnering with BMW and Gap on AR shopping experiences. Adobe is launching voice-based photo editing technology.

VR/AR are poised to generate significant dollars for technology and content makers. Deloitte called it the billion dollar niche in 2016. Some sources, such as Digi-Capital, make bolder predictions, forecasting over 100 billion dollars by 2020, disrupting mobile.

As these emerging technologies edge their way to become mainstream, gender and generational gaps appear. Nielsen study on VR technology (2016) shows a typical early adoption story on VR: Male and younger audiences are more likely to adopt. Women not as likely to be interested or aware! 

VR can fundamentally change the way we communicate in arts and politics. And if women are typically the storytellers, where does that put the female voice in arts, news, commerce and politics? If shopping is gamified in ways that suit men, will women – who are responsible for grand majority of household purchases-- buy more?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

VR Headsets Go Beyond Gaming As The Latest Sales Tool

Back in December, I had published a marketoon by Greg Kessler on my LinkedIn account, suggesting we would be relying on VR headsets to paint a vision of the future. The idea behind this cartoon is the topic of a New York Times real estate section article this week. 'A New Dimension in Home Buying' by Jennifer Miller shows how Hallstead Realty is selling multi-million dollar properties by showing prospects a vision of what these condos will be through VR headsets. It's about evoking emotions and converting lookers to buyers when in the raw construction phase.

Hallstead's initiative is not only a clever gimmick, but hope that VR will have real commercial applications beyond gaming. Similar to real estate, VR headsets can be used in retail to show how to dress, cook, or experience a vacation. In auto, it can help drivers test their car in the wilderness, or through narrow streets of old European cities without leaving the dealer's showroom. If done right, VR stories can help propel new authors to best seller status by showing a preview of what those 300 pages hold.

As companies tie increasing profits to VR marketing, this type of storytelling will become mainstream (and with hopefully more attractive headsets)


Monday, November 30, 2015

My Goosebumps Podcast: How do you measure empathy?

It was a pleasure to do this podcast with Bryan Adams, founder and CEO of creative agency Ph. Creative, about word of mouth marketing. Goosebumps (co-authored by Bryan Adams and Dave Hazelhurst of Ph. Creative) is full of great tips and tools on digital marketing. We discussed how to:

  • Create a hook to entice listeners and strike an emotional chord 
  • Measure empathy, all the while looking at hard numbers such as sales
  • Spot signs of viral content

It's also available on iTunes. Enjoy!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Millennials: One Size Does Not Fit All

Emerging Trend:  There is a growing understanding that not all millennials behave the same way.  
Implication:  Your millennial data is not flat. You may need to distinguish between lifestyles, life stages and other demographics.
1-      Get your millennial definition straight: Is it just adults, or do you need to include teens as well?
2-      Look into the differences between younger and older millennials. Those in college and those who are starting families will have distinct media and spending patterns.

3-      Measure values as well as attitudes. Are your millennials more likely to vote for green initiatives? Do they donate frequently?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Do you want to tune off?

Emerging Trend: We are increasingly expressing our desire to ‘tune-off’ in reaction to the flux of ‘big data’ in our lives.

Implications: Decline in app usage, email opens, click throughs, productivity and overall life quality. Increase in sensory sensitivity.

Action: Tune off! Or enable others to do so. Check out how Ikea helps customers design serene surroundings. See how JetBlue greets Web site visitors with Aruba get-away options. If you need more help, download the Dinner Mode app by Sloane Davidson to focus on your food and conversation at meal times.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Majority Multicultural Areas Are the Future of America…and Marketing

Emerging Trend: Culturally relevant content and products are appealing to non-Hispanic whites as well as multicultural audiences.

·         Non-Hispanic whites in majority multicultural areas, which Nielsen coins as Super Geos in its recent report, show similar purchase patterns as multicultural consumers.

·         Programs such as Black-ish and Fresh off the Boat are attracting diverse audiences, including non-Hispanic whites.

 Implication: Your targets are not what they seem. As populations shift in size and attitudes, marketers should not miss the opportunity to appeal to audiences based on cultural interest.


1-      Watch millennials and generation Z who are more accepting of cross-cultural experiences than older generations.

2-      Target based on lifestyle segments, not only demos.

3-      Pilot programs in super geo areas (e.g., NY, LA, SF, New Orleans, Nashville)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Would you manage your home by phone?

Emerging trend: Smartphones are becoming home data managers – capable of tracking and enabling habitants’ activities (music, shopping, cooking) and home settings (e.g., temperature, safety, lights).

Implication: Device and chip makers will compete with telecom players will gain a bigger share of home networking. They will want consumers to have their brands to be top of mind and trust them with more personal information.


1-      Seize the opportunity to re-brand, with new products and capabilities that go beyond communication.  

2-      Put permission marketing ahead of precision marketing when messaging consumers about their home.

3-      Communicate benefits such as convenience, time-saving and comfort when setting up a home network and assure consumers their information (e.g., lifestyle habits, address and app usage) will be kept safe.

Would you like to use your phone or a wearable device to manage your home-based activities? Or would you find it intrusive?

Special thanks to Zuzanna Skalska of 360inspiration who informed me of Samsung CEO’s keynote speech on future homes at the recent IFA conference and inspired this post.