Amazon Digital goes Physical…again

Latest from Amazon is that they are launching a physical store to sell their fashion product in physical space. The new store joins their previous ventures into physical stores for food and books.

Beloved of influencers, the Amazon fashion offering is proving so successful that in March 2021, after reaching $41 billion in 2020, Amazon became the top clothing retailer in the U.S., beating out Target, Walmart and Gap!

So why are they choosing to create a physical store experience if digital is going so well?

My view? 3 reasons:-

  1. One of the largest costs for online fashion retail is returns. According to Yocuda, product returns cost £60bn for UK retailers alone and can count for up to 10% of business. You can easily minimize this by having clothes – surprise surprise – tried on in the shop.
  2. Not only that but people are becoming wise to the fact often returns will end up in landfill, not in someone else’s wardrobe. As a sustainability play physical premises make good sense – less to landfill.
  3. A chance to test out new technology – and collect new data. We all know that Amazon is as much a data company as a goods company, right? Echo, Ring, Amazon Web Services – they aren’t flogging you things, they’re flogging your things, your data, the information collected about you that helps goods producers to create products you will love.

    Magic mirrors and ordering in store will provide more information about customer splits, prefences and behavious that can be analysed through innovative creative tech. More data, more money.
  4. Finally, there is something about simply being physically present in store that puts people in touch with the brand in a new way. The enviroment, experiences, materials, lighting and staff, even the music all contribute to create a stronger brand relationship.

    Amazon clearly views physical spaces as a way for its brand to reach more people in new, innovative ways that cement its position at the top of the market. With this new physical store it’s making a statement about where it wants to go with fashion, once again demonstrating to the world the power of experiential.

What you say, what you are, what you do

I came across a fantastic quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson whilst reading “If in doubt, Wash your hair” by Anya Hindmarsh,

“What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.”

She uses it to explain why all the branding in the world won’t mean a thing unless it reflects your authentic behaviour.

She’s right of course as is Emerson. But I believe that if you do a brand strategy correctly your “taglines and campaigns” should reflect the truth of your brand or product. And more than this, it can effect change in yourself/your brand because it reveals to you things you believe that aren’t seen by your clients and customers.

Good brand strategy has both an internal and external aspect, revealing the behaviours that come from the values you have. Often these things don’t match, that’s when your behaviour overrides what you are saying about yourself.

It’s tempting to short-cut the branding process and go straight to the visual or verbal expression but you run the risk of delivering a strategy that isn’t true to who you really are and you won’t benefit from the chance to change. What you are will out shout what you say.

Generations of insight

A few years ago it was fashionable in marketing circles to say that using generational demographics was meaningless and that identity was more about attitude and life stage.

But I have always felt that talking about generations is a useful way to get to broad but solid insights about segments of customers, even taking into account their life stage. If you’ve lived through deprivation at a formative age you’ll be less into self-actualising and more into just making sure you’ve got cash. If a whole generation has grown up with climate change hanging over their heads then they are more likely as a whole to be into politics and filled with anxiety. After all, a generation is only a bunch of individuals looked at together.

Check out the latest report on Gen Z by GWI for some insights into how they differ from Millennials who didn’t face either of these challenges at a young age.

“Don’t be evil” does not equal “Be good”: Google and tracking

Google’s motto is understood to be “Don’t be evil”. It’s in the last sentence of their Code of Conduct document.

Sounds great, right? A big, ambitious, well-known business putting something so different and life-affirming right in the heart of their work?

I’ve had a problem with this ever since I learned about it. Because “evil” is a strong word. I would argue that it’s so strong that most of us will never encounter it on a personal level. We might be part of a systemic evil and not know it, but for the woman on the street it’s easy to imagine that evil doesn’t really exist.

Bad behaviour on the other hand, that’s something we encounter every day. Every time someone snipes at us, or we swear at someone who cuts in front of us. Every time we can’t be bothered to recycle something. It’s not evil as such. It’s just a bit naughty.

The problem is that naughty can become a habit, breeding a functional attitude to bad behaviour that becomes wrong doing. So while we are “not being evil” we might be “doing bad things” and overtime those bad things can become a habit that leads to problems. Perhaps even to evil.

Hannah Arendts talked about the banality of evil, the everyday efficiency and accounting practice that was used in the management of the gas chambers.

No. Of course I’m not saying that Google is evil on that scale. But I am saying that a cog in a system never thinks they are evil, but perhaps if they were asked to do something specifically good that would begin to prove difficult.

“Don’t be evil” is a negative. It’s not an active requirement to do anything differently. “Don’t be evil” does not mean “Be good”.

And so it is that we saw Google reversing its stance on tracking individuals and continuing to find ways of harvesting and selling their personal data even after individuals have explicitly said they don’t want to be tracked.

Google have been happily taking your data.

There is a good argument that they are providing us with a service and we have to pay for it somehow – nothing commercial comes for free. But to deliberately pursue and hide the ways individuals can protect their data and to chase and enable the scraping and selling of that without your consent? How would you define that? Not evil. But definitely not good.

I have never been impressed by this vague but wonderful sounding statement of Google’s. “Being good” requires deliberate choices and hard work. Not being “evil” apparently allows for lying to be perfectly fine.

You decide.

Planning for hybrid events

I’m sure we are all familiar with the idea of the hybrid experience. While we wait for vaccines to roll out fully it’s still something of a pipe dream. But few doubt that hybrid content will be a significant addition to the experiential arsenal starting from the 3rd quarter of this year (virus depending!).

What we can all agree is that one fixed camera pointed at masked presenters on stage presented by Facebook Live does not a hybrid event make.

So, how do we have a positive conversation around the need for tailored streams of content that play differently for online and offline audiences? This will be essential as we move forward, both for our own strategic and creative needs and when we come to present good hybrd ideas to clients.

I have developed a simple tool called the Hybrid Helix. It’s a way to map out for project participants that there are two, clear, intersecting streams of experience and engagement, which require different content/engagement strategies.

No alt text provided for this image

I have found that it helps to demonstrate which parts of an experience are common to both online and offline parties and which parts need to be considered as separate engagements. This then allows us to have deeper conversations about expectations and investment.

Have you found any other mapping or planning tools that can help your teams or clients ideate/strategise experiences in a new hybrid context?

Inclusive experiences

This is a lovely piece about a Down’s Syndrome Model for JoJo Maman Bebe. Eleanor’s first steps went viral during lockdown and the brand picked her out for their autumn catalogue.

When brands are inclusive everyone benefits. The customers are represented now feel included. Customers who are not directly impacted both have their experience of life extended and feel part of a brand that acts in the right way – developing brand affliation. The retailer or brand benefits because they extend their customer set and reinforce their brand values.

This doesn’t only apply to advertising but to experiences.  And in this strange time it’s even more important that we consider everyone’s needs because much of our experiential work is online.

So, if we are launching a product via video does our platform provide transcription for the hard of hearing?

Do we have every image described so that screen readers can explain what is happening for those who can’t see?

Is the language we are using simple and easy to understand?

If we are sending out products as part of our experiences have we considered the ability of our audiences to open?

Just because most people are at home doens’t mean they change who they are. Thinking about really effective and impactful experiences means thinking about all our audiences and imagining how we can create moments that reach all of them.

Non-Obvious Trends 2019/20

It’s that time again, when I lose my friends…I’ve got the bends from pressure.

Not really – although Christmas can indeed cause the bends from pressure. But James quotes aside, it’s the time of year when Non-Obvious Trends from Rohit Bhargava comes out and this year I am again privelleged to be reading a pre-release copy. However, this time there’s a difference. This year Rohit is releasing Non-Obvious Mega Trends.

Mega trends are close to my heart. We produce a yearly mega trend review drawn from mulitple sources and our own research which lets us track the broader societal movements and attitudes that influence us more subtly than, say, brands hitting TikTok hard or Vine (what? exactly, Vine is no more, the mega trend that produced it is still around).

I’ll be reading and reviewing and will obviously share thoughts and conclusions with you. But I’m sure that it will be as insightful and valuable as always and a useful addition to any strategists’ arsenal.

Non-Obvious Teaser Image

things I've noted in the world around.

Discover WordPress

A daily selection of the best content published on WordPress, collected for you by humans who love to read.


Just another site

canalside view

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair" - Charles Dickens

TED Blog

The TED Blog shares news about TED Talks and TED Conferences.

Perfect Path

I'm the founder of the Tuttle Club and fascinated by organisation. I enjoy making social art and building communities, if you'd like some help from me feel free to e-mail me: Lloyd dot Davis at Gmail dot Com or call +44 (0)79191 82825