Have you wanted to avoid seats next to babies on flights?

Japan Airlines has started giving passengers as much information as possible to help them decide where they want to sit on a flight in order to avoid sitting too close to a baby.

The move will be a boon for travelers who like to avoid babies.

View image on Twitter

On the other hand, to make traveling parents’ lives easier, the airline provides a number of strollers for rent in the airport, and will accept baby strollers as checked baggage for free.

Passengers traveling with infants also enjoy priority boarding, and offers hot water for bottles as well as diaper changing facilities on board.

Why it’s hot: These little perks can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty for airlines, especially on long-haul flights, and help them compete with other airlines much better.

SOURCE

Amtrak axes dining cars

Why it’s hot: Amtrak claims that switching to packaged food and allowing passengers to pre-select and pre-order meals will save it $2 million a year.

So is this really about cost savings or lack of consumer demand for hot food and tablecloth dining services?

I think it’s about cost savings over anything else. Millennials have killed many things, but I doubt they’re responsible for the death of the Amtrak dining car.

SOURCE

Nestlé launches luxury KitKat bars in the UK

KitKat is one of the most successful brands of chocolate in the world with more than 3 million made and sold every single day. They were actually first made in the UK in 1935 and now sold in more than 70 countries around the world.

KitKats have cult status in Japan and Nestle has developed over 300 flavors for the Japanese market over the past 20+ years with varying price points depending on where they are sold.

“The Kit Kat in Japan has range. It’s found in department stores and luxurious Kit Kat-devoted boutiques that resemble high-end shoe stores, a single ingot to a silky peel-away sheath, stacked in slim boxes and tucked inside ultrasmooth-opening drawers, which a well-dressed, multilingual sales clerk slides open for you as you browse.” – NYTimes

As of today, Nestle will begin selling “luxury” handcrafted versions of KitKat bars at John Lewis stores in the UK. These will be available from now until Christmas Eve and will cost £14 (US $17).

People will be able to mix and match flavors, and also will be able to opt for British classics like Eton Mess, Cherry Bakewell, and Earl Grey. Whisky & Ginger bars are also available — as is a flavor the company doesn’t describe but calls “Jewels of the East.”

Each bar is hand-crafted.

Why it’s hot: Can Nestle replicate it’s Japanese business in other markets by marketing more expensive flavors to not just elevate the brand to a more premium space but also capture greater market share within the chocolate category?

Uber now offers enhanced safety features

Uber rolled out a new safety feature called RideCheck for all users in the US.

When there’s a long stop that keeps you in the same location or it appears like you’ve been in a car crash, the Uber app will check on you — and the driver.

Right now, most instances when RideCheck is triggered turn out to be innocent – like traffic jams, drive-throughs, quick dry cleaning pick-up, etc. Uber saw how it could incorporate real-time data to see if your long stop makes sense and isn’t problematic, like if traffic maps show your location in a dark red congested zone.

RideCheck works as a 3-step process:

Why it’s hot: In the future, Uber wants to expand this feature to be able to check on users when their ride veers too far from the route or away from a destination. However, that feature isn’t built yet. This feature would be eagerly welcomed in certain markets where safety is a huge concern.

SOURCE

Walmart and Nordstrom are opening stores that don’t sell anything

Both Walmart and Nordstrom are building physical stores where you can’t actually buy anything. These new types of stores are being built purely for shoppers to collect their online orders.

Walmart opened Walmart Pickup Point, a 40,000 square-foot prototype store outside of Chicago in Lincolnwood, Illinois, to cater to customers’ online pickups and deliveries. Customers drive up to the site to designated parking spots, and a Walmart worker will load up their trunk with their order. Customers are not allowed to go inside.

Nordstrom has been operating similar stores longer than Walmart. Nordstrom Local gives customers a place to make pickups and returns and take advantage of Nordstrom’s alteration and tailoring services. Nordstrom has three Local stores in Los Angeles and is slated to open its first two in New York City in September.

Nordstrom Local in Melrose doesn't carry inventory. Nordstrom has three Local stores in Los Angeles and is slated to open its first two in New York City in September.

Walmart's online grocery pickup location in Bentonville, Arkansas.

Why it’s hot: Even though, Nordstrom offers pickup at all its more than 100 full-priced locations around the United States, while Walmart is on track to offer pickup at more than 3,000 of its stores by the end of 2019, these stores are designed for shoppers who want to grab their stuff and go without waiting in checkout lines or interacting with sales workers on the floor. Picking up orders from stores can also be faster than home delivery.

SOURCE

 

The more you recycle, the more you can save on your train rides

Rome started a program where commuters can get a 5-cent credit for every bottle they put into the newly installed recycling machines.

Every 30 bottles gives you a free ride.

The credit is received into your account by scanning your phone on the machines once you’ve deposited by bottles into the machines.

Why it’s hot: This is a great way to get people to recycle more by offering a cost saving incentive and helps with corporate social responsibility. Not just cities, but supermarkets, restaurants, and certain types of brands could offer similar discounts for recycling or similar environmentally friendly activities.

Source: FastCompany

The doctor is ready to see you – at the mall

With the steady rise of online retail, brick-and-mortar retail has been having a hard time for a few years now. Nearly 5,900 stores were closed in the US in 2018, and nearly 6,000 are expected to close in 2019. Which means that mall vacancies are at all-time highs in many parts of the country.

Mall of America in Minneapolis, America’s largest mall, announced plans last week to open a 2,300-square-foot walk-in clinic in November with medical exam rooms, a radiology room, lab space, and a pharmacy dispensary service. Mall of America is teaming up with University of Minnesota physicians and a Minnesota-based health care system to operate the clinic.

Here’s another example of the growth of “medtail”. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is planning a 34,000 square-foot oncology and hematology outpatient facility in the Patriot Place shopping center in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Mall leases for apparel retailers declined by more than 10% since 2017, while leases for medical clinics at malls have grown by almost 60% since then.

Why it’s hot: Mall landlords are betting that when patients visit for a flu shot or eye exam, they’ll shop around for clothes or electronics. Adding medical clinics also makes sense for mall owners because they draw in doctors, nurses and technicians every day who may shop and eat at restaurants.

Sources: CNN. NYT.

Block Renovation: a new way to renovate

Block Renovation is a start-up in the home renovation services space – currently only focusing on bathroom renovations.

But they don’t employ any contractors themselves. Instead, it partners with licensed and insured contracting and architecture firms. It does however employ an in-house design team.

4 steps in starting the renovation:

  1. Get a free estimate by answering a few multiple choice questions on their website
  2. Share photos and videos of your space
  3. Your renovation is prepared by designers and architects
  4. Rapid build begins by a contractor from their vetted network

Why it’s hot: It’s all about the customer experience and entrepreneurs are looking to improve the customer experience even in more blue-collar service industries.

There’s a new location for ad placements and ad targeting

 

A startup named Cooler Screens is piloting a new door for commercial freezers and refrigerators that’s equipped with a

  • camera
  • motion sensors
  • eye tracking

in six Walgreens pharmacies around the country, including the one by Union Square in NYC.

The doors can discern a couple of things:

  • you gender
  • general age range
  • what products you’re looking at
  • how long you’re standing there
  • and even what your emotional response is to a particular product

The company’s research has shown that 75% of shoppers make decisions about what they’re going to buy from coolers on impulse.

For instance, if a man is standing in front of a cooler where Coke is displaying ads, the cooler might show a Coke Zero ad since that particular product skews more male, while a woman might see a Diet Coke ad.

Similarly, the doors also use contextual information like the time of day to convince you to buy more. You could pass by the beer door, and [the door] may notice that you’re picking up a six-pack of Miller Coors. It’s 4 p.m., so it’s near dinner time. [It might] offer to you, buy a DiGiorno pizza for a special price if you’re buying a six-pack of Miller Coors.

Cooler Screens already has advertising deals with more than 15 of the 20 top consumer packaged goods companies, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, and MillerCoors.

Why it’s hot: It’s real time consumer profiling and ad targeting in a physical store location.

Source

E-scooters could soon be on the streets of NYC

Lime in New Zealand.

Pick your Lime vehicle.

New York City has been a holdout in the electric scooter craze. A 2004 New York state law banned any motorized scooters.

City Council will soon vote on four bills that include a pilot program for shared e-scooters and legalizing e-scooters that can only go up to 15 mph.

A similar bill would allow for the use of e-bikes with a max speed of 20 mph.

If legalized, Lime is very eager to start operations in New York City like it does in over 100 cities around the world.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has given the OK for cities to figure out for themselves what to do about e-scooters so NYC is planning to vote on it.

Why it’s hot: Legalizing e-scooters could forever change the streets on NYC and add a new layer to the bike-share program.

Source: https://mashable.com/article/e-scooters-nyc-legalize/

A demographic snapshot of Post-Millennials or Gen Z

New data from the Pew Research Center gives us a demographic breakdown of the newest generation many marketers will be targeting, if they’re not currently targeting them.

The oldest members of this generation have already reached adulthood.

The generations defined

Nearly half of them are non-white, they’re more likely to attend college than previous generations, and their own parents are more likely to be college educated than previous generations as well.

Nearly half of post-Millennials are racial or ethnic minorities

They’re significantly more likely to be Hispanic than previous generations, slightly more Asian, and noticeably less likely to be white.

One-in-four post-Millennials are Hispanic

They’re more likely to have foreign-born parents than millennials are, but slightly less likely to be foreign-born than millennials were in 2002.

Post-Millennials, especially Hispanics, are less likely than Millennials to be foreign born

Why It’s Hot: Gen Zs are a unique generation like any other and understanding them demographically and psychographically will be important as more marketers begin to target them.

Source: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/11/15/early-benchmarks-show-post-millennials-on-track-to-be-most-diverse-best-educated-generation-yet/

Payless performs a social experiment for PR and advertising

Shoe retailer Payless recently took over a former Armani store in Santa Monica, CA, stocked it with Payless products, and then invited fashion influencers to attend a “party” celebrating the store’s opening.

These influencers were made to believe that they were attending a store opening for a new high-end designer called “Palessi”.

These influencers paid between $200 and $600 for Payless shoes traditionally priced between $20 and $40. Many called their purchases “sophisticated” or “made with high quality materials”.

Of course, later, all the influencers that made purchases did get back the full amounts and got to keep the shoes.

Why it’s hot: It’s easy to fool anyone with the right marketing, branding, and positioning. And Payless had the opportunity to prove that its very affordable shoes could pass off as high-end designer shoes.

Source

Uber introduces rider loyalty program after Lyft announces one

The Uber rewards program is available this week for users in NYC metro area, New Jersey, Denver, Tampa, Miami, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Atlanta, and San Diego; and Uber promises it will roll out to all U.S. riders in the next few months.

Uber has also set up different status levels for its customers: Blue, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. Every six months, an individual’s Uber points are tallied and at 500, 2,500, 7,500 points respectively, they jump to the next tier for the next six months.

Since the program looks at your ride history from the past six months, by the time you’re enrolled in the program you might be Gold, Platinum, or Diamond status to start.

You’ll get one point for every dollar spent on Uber Pool rides and Uber Eats orders. Two points for ordering an UberX, UberXL, UberSelect, or UberWAV ride. Three points for ordering UberBlack and UberBlack SUV rides.

Uber users will get a $5 credit for every 500 points they earn. And this credit can be used for rides or Uber Eats.

Tiers:

Blue – less than 500 points

Gold – between 500 and 2,499 points: Free cancellations within a 15-minute window, priority customer support

Platinum – 2,500 to 7,499 points: Gold benefits + price locking between two set places (home and work, for example) on UberX, priority pick-ups at the airport

Diamond – 7,500 points and above: Gold + Platinum benefits + dedicated phone support, free upgrades to Uber Black, access to highly rated drivers, no delivery fees on three Uber Eats orders every six months

Riders can keep their current status level for six months. If during that time period they don’t spend enough, they can drop down the tiers. For example, a Gold member would need to earn 500 to 2,499 points over six months to maintain that level for the following six months.

Why it’s hot: modeled after airline rewards programs, time will tell if this rewards/loyalty program will boost Uber ridership among existing users.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/14/travel/uber-and-lyft-launch-rewards-programs.html. https://mashable.com/article/uber-rewards-loyalty-program/#IOoZZomZtsqW

Facebook must deal with negative sentiment

In October, Fortune magazine and Harris Poll surveyed over 2,000 American adults representative of the overall population to measure their perceptions of large tech companies.

Why it’s hot: With repeated news of how Facebook mishandled the private data of its users, Americans seem to have an increasingly negative perception of the company. And this might be reflected in the stagnation of its daily active users in North America.

Source: http://fortune.com/2018/11/08/mark-zuckerberg-facebook-reputation/

Smart thermometer helps a marketer advertise more effectively

Kinsa is a tech start-up sells internet-connected thermometers that sync up with a smartphone app that allows consumers to track their fevers and symptoms. These capabilities make the app especially attractive to parents of young children.

Kinsa says its thermometers are in more than 500k American households.

This year and last year, Clorox paid Kinsa for access to real-time data on which zip codes around the country are having increases in fevers.

Clorox then pushes more ads to those specific areas assuming that households there may be more likely to buy their products like disinfecting wipes and sprays. They may also pull back ad spending in healthier parts of the country.

So far, consumer interactions with Clorox’s disinfectant ads increased by 22% after using Kinsa’s data to target these digital ads.

The information shared with Clorox was shared in a privacy-compliant manner because Kinsa says no identifying personal information is shared with other companies.

Kinsa says that such data was also sold to pharmacies and drug manufacturers who used this data to stock more cough and cold products in areas that had increases in fevers.

Kinsa said the data provided unique insight into flu-related illness in specific areas. “We can tell you if it’s high or low, whether it’s rising, if it’s bigger than the three- or five- year average, when it’s going to peak and how severe the symptoms are, too,” said the company’s founder.

Why it’s hot: As more products get connected to the internet, it means more consumer data can be collected, which means greater opportunities for advertisers to effectively target their advertising.

Source

Who seems to be winning the midterm elections on social media?

The New York Times analyzed data from one month’s (9/15 to 10/15) worth of social media activity by nearly all of the Republican and Democratic candidates running for House, Senate or governor this year. This data came from organic-only public content published to the Facebook and Instagram pages of these candidates.

Measuring total interactions on social media is an imperfect way to gauge a candidate’s electoral chances, in part because it does not distinguish between types of engagement. A negative comment left on a Republican candidate’s page by an angry Democrat would still count as an interaction, for example. In addition, it does not account for the fact that some candidates have more followers than others.

But social media engagement can be a crude measure of popularity, and a bellwether of shifts in public opinion that often turn up in polls days or weeks later. In 2016, many polls and pundits gave Mr. Trump little chance of winning, but his performance on Facebook was soaring, bolstered by millions of dollars in targeted advertising. His digital campaign director, Brad Parscale, later credited Facebook’s scale and influence with his victory.

Facebook is the most widespread platform, and for campaigns, it’s like broadcast television,” said Tim Lim, a Democratic digital consultant. “You have so much reach, and so many ad units, and probably more eyeballs than anywhere else.”

Democrats running for House, Senate and governor’s seats in this fall’s elections received a combined 15.1 million interactions on Facebook in the 30-day period, roughly three times the 5.4 million interactions received by Republican candidates.

Why it’s hot: we’ll find out this election day that to what degree we can link social media popularity to winning elections. Will there be a blue wave this election day?

Source

Amazon just opened a physical store in NYC that only sells certain types of products

 

Amazon just opened their first-ever 4-star store. It opened in SoHo in New York City.

And as the name implies, everything on its shelves has earned at least a four-star review average from Amazon’s customers.

The store sells: devices, consumer electronics, kitchen, home, toys, books, and games.

Amazon Prime members will pay lower prices than non-members.

Why it’s hot:

This is essentially a “customer curated” physical store from an e-commerce retailer.

It’s also tailored to local buying habits because it features products “trending around NYC” in addition to the 4-star + products.

More here.

Video streaming is the top source of global internet traffic

Sandvine, a networking equipment company, just released the Global Internet Report 2018.

Key takeaways:

58% of the total downstream volume of traffic on the internet is VIDEO.

15% of the total downstream volume of traffic across the entire internet is Netflix.

19% of total downstream traffic in the US is Netflix. At peak hour, that number can spike to 40% on some operator networks in the US.

The social network rankings are interesting, because user population does not always translate to network usage. More video-heavy social networks are responsible for a greater share of global internet traffic. YouTube was not placed in this category because it would skew the results.

Why it’s hot: video content and video streaming are the future of the internet, at least in terms of its share of global internet traffic. This is true not just in North America, but around the world.

The UK Government Is Planning To Set Up A Regulator For The Internet

BuzzFeed News has obtained details of the proposals, which would see the establishment of an internet regulator similar to Ofcom, which regulates broadcasters, telecoms, and postal communications.

The UK government is preparing to establish a new internet regulator that would make tech firms liable for content published on their platforms and have the power to sanction companies that fail to take down illegal material and hate speech within hours.

Ministers are also looking at implementing age verification for users of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

More here.

Why it’s hot: 

Social media companies are especially watching to see how:

  • State-backed regulation of social media would work and the resources it would require to do so successfully
  • What non-illegal content merits state-backed oversight
  • Whether it is even possible for a European country to impose a legal framework on firms headquartered in the US and elsewhere

Survey says Nike’s brand image has dropped because of Colin Kaepernick ad

A new survey by Morning Consult says that since Nike debuted its stunning new Colin Kaepernick ad, the brand’s favorability and consumer purchase consideration have significantly sunk. According to the survey, before the Kaepernick announcement, Nike had a net +69 favorable impression among consumers. That has now dropped by 34 points to +35 favorable. Before the ad, 49% of Americans said they were absolutely certain or very likely to buy Nike products, and that figure is down to 39% now.

Why it’s hot:

Not surprisingly, Nike’s favorability has dropped dramatically among Republicans and baby boomers who are unlikely to agree with Nike’s messaging. It’ll be important to see how these numbers change in a few months since their overall favorability has dropped significantly among all American adults. This might be a case study on whether or not large brands should get involved in polarizing political discussions and how they might be alienating certain consumers by picking a side in a very divided America.

 

The geographic distances of your Facebook friends from your location reveals lots about you

Social networks like Facebook, far from serving merely as entertainment for youngsters, are central to modern life, influencing the way people work and play. Social connections formed online now help shape many people’s identities in the real world.

New research suggests that our social media networks tell us more about ourselves than we may think. A study published last week in the Journal of Economic Perspectives by researchers from Facebook, Harvard, NYU and Princeton analyses the social “connectedness” of Americans, as measured by friendship links on Facebook. Using aggregated and anonymised data, the authors find that Americans with tightly clustered social networks comprised mainly of friends located within a short distance of their home tend to have lower incomes, lower levels of education and lower life expectancies. Those with more geographically dispersed social networks tend to be richer, more educated and healthier.

More here.

Why it’s hot: 

The geographic locations of your Facebook friends says a lot about your socio-economic mobility, health, and education levels. Those with more Facebook friends close by to them are more likely to have lower household incomes, life expectancy, and lower education rates, for example. The opposite is true for those with more of their Facebook friends spread out around the country & world which probably correlates with higher socio-economic mobility meaning better health and education levels, for example.

 

New York Times Co. Reports $24 Million Profit, Thanks to Digital Subscribers

The New York Times continued its digital growth in the second quarter of 2018, adding 109,000 digital-only subscribers. With that rise came an increase in revenue that counteracted a decline in print advertising.

The company said on Wednesday that revenue from digital subscriptions rose to $99 million in the second quarter, a jump of nearly 20 percent compared with the same period a year ago. Over all for the second quarter, total revenue increased 2 percent, to $415 million, and the company reported a profit of almost $24 million.

The Times now has 2.9 million digital-only subscribers, out of 3.8 million total.

“Subscription revenues accounted for nearly two-thirds of the company’s revenues, a trend we expect to continue,” Mark Thompson, the company’s chief executive, said in a news release. “We continue to believe that there is significant runway to expand that base substantially.”

More here.

Why it’s HOT:

As a “newspaper” media company, the New York Times now has significantly more digital-only subscribers than print subscribers. 76% of its subscribers are digital-only.

Also, subscription revenues are now two-thirds of the company’s revenues which means the company doesn’t rely on advertising for revenues as much as it did in the decades past.

The death of Don Draper

The advertising industry is currently enthralled by a prophet of its imminent demise. Scott Galloway is a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and founder of a marketing consultancy. In a much-shared YouTube video, he delivers a talk entitled “The Death of the Advertising-Industrial Complex” to an audience of young marketers. In it, he argues that businesses can no longer rely on advertising to compensate for mediocre products.

Until the 1990s, says Galloway, the path to success lay in taking “an average beer, average car, or average suit” and wrapping it in appealing associations – this one makes you feel more elegant, this one makes you feel younger. Now, we live in an age in which the intangible haze of soft-sell is no longer necessary, and the battle for market share comes down to the raw strength of your product. “The sun has passed midday on brand,” he says.

The ad industry, run by people who pride themselves on creativity, is being displaced by the ad business, which prides itself on efficiency. Clients are spending less on the kind of entertaining, seductive, fame-generating campaigns in which ad agencies specialize, and more on the ads that flash and wink on your smartphone screen.

More here.

Why it’s HOT:

Modern media technology, more educated consumers, and the democratization of information have transformed the advertising business like no other. Today’s advertising agencies may not be able to help clients market mediocre products like they could have in a much simpler time.