I love flowers in my home – and if I can’t get them fresh, I make do with a bit of home decoration!
I discovered a lovely shop in Shoreditch, House of Hackney. This luxury interiors store specialises in British-made prints and products steeped in tradition, but with a modern twist. It sells everything from cushions to clothing in a range of fabulous floral prints.
Its print collections are inspired by the natural world and include everything from garden birds to sumptuous English roses.
Well worth a visit if you like flowers.
I can clearly remember the first time I noticed the impact a simple dot on a piece of paper could have. I must have been about nine years old and, as I stood next to a large advertising hording, I could see that the image was made from dots, lots of them arranged in a specific pattern to create a picture. This totally fascinated me and still does today. Little did I know then what a major role dots would play in my working life.
For the past 20 years, I have been working in the print industry, working alongside repro and printing companies in an effort to control and improve the simple dot on a page, to recreate amazing photography or stunning works of art.
In the late 19th century, when offset litho printing was in its infancy, the artist Georges Seurat was using dots and small patterns in his paintings to create stunning pictures. This method of painting became known as Divisionism or Chromoluminarism and was based on the theory that small patterns or dots arranged in a specific order would create a larger colour gamut than the traditional method of mixing different coloured pigments. Up close, his paintings were just a series of random dots of varying colours and sizes, but when viewed from a distance they transformed into beautiful neo-impressionist paintings.
One of Seurat’s paintings that illustrates this technique best is A Sunday afternoon on the island of La Grand Jatte (below). When viewed from a distance, the woman’s skirt appears to be purple, but under closer inspection you can see that it is made from many different colours and hues.
Many years later, in 1962, young artist Chuck Close graduated from the University of Washington in the US and embarked on a career creating what would become his signature style: photo-realism. This style uses a process he came to describe as “knitting”, where he created large canvases from Polaroids taken of models.
This method allowed Close to create intimate images, replicating the smallest details in the models’ faces (see Mark and Mark Unfinished, below). From a distance, these images were almost photographic, blurring the distinction between photography and art. It has been said that this style of placing ink on a canvas paved the way for the development of the inkjet printer.
A dot on it’s own is just that, but when combined with others, in a specific (or even random) order, they can combine to become a thing of absolute beauty, which can inspire, excite and even bring a tear to the eye.
This strength in numbers not only works on a visible level, but can also be applied to our everyday lives. There’s something about that I like.
With technology changing at an ever-increasing rate, life is undoubtedly moving faster than ever – and no-one is better equipped to deal with it than the so-called Generation Z.
As the first true generation to grow up with the internet, Generation Z is defined as those typically born from early 1995 to 2001. This generation is the first to be completely submerged in the internet and have never known a time without it. They are very tech savvy – and are likely to have never picked up an encyclopedia.
It’s important that marketers take note of this generation as it will inevitably lead and shape patterns in purchasing products, services and interactions online. Business and media will have to listen to the needs of this generation and potentially mould themselves accordingly.
This generation is growing up fast and the length of “innocence” is steadily decreasing with the knowledge accessible at its fingertips. Having grown up amid major innovation and social change, Zs are inquisitive and globally aware. They understand news as it happens and the myriad ways of transmitting and communicating it.
Watch this space
These budding entrepreneurs, professionals and decision makers are likely to lead companies and conduct business in a different way from their parents or even Generation Y (the young adults, aged 21-35ish that came before them).
According to Mashable
- 52% use YouTube and social media for research assignments
- 33% watch lessons online
- 20% read textbooks on tablets
- 32% work with classmates online
How can Generation Z help shape the future?
Research by agency Sparks & Honey found that Generation Z makes up the largest population demographic and as Generation Z’s influence inevitably grows, marketers will be forced to adapt to engage this audience in new ways. For instance, those who are 19 and younger prefer social networks like Snapchat, Secret and Whisper, as, according to the research, a quarter of 13- to 17-year-olds have left Facebook since 2011. Marketers who are innovative and forward thinking are adapting already by increased usage of social media, learning apps and online shopping capabilities. For example, last year Paramount Pictures used secret-sharing site Whisper to promote its film Men, Women and Children.
As we watch our younger family and friends play with their tablets, its clear to see they are more savvy and adaptable to technology than we ever were. It will be important for businesses to expand their methodologies. They will need to continue to respond to the different behaviour and speed of information that the next generation is exposed to.
Once upon a time, advertising promotions could only be seen in the likes of newspapers or magazines, on leaflets, posters, on the good old TV, on billboards, by word of mouth, heard on the radio or pasted on to a sandwich board and attached to an odd-looking person walking down the street. This was the case until the internet boomed. In 1994, HotWired, an online companion to Wired magazine, made online banner ads mainstream by selling en masse to AT&T and other companies, heralding a new era of online advertising. The rest is certainly not history – it is developing rapidly, with online advertising now being targeted to our own personal tastes and behaviour (see the view of Michael Smith, Chief Digital Officer at Forbes Media, below).
It is estimated that we spend, on average, 23 hours a week online, be it on a PC or mobile. Our connected experiences during this time are decorated with advertising magically promoting things we are interested in, popping up on websites that might not be related to the product or business that is being marketed, but how is that possible?
Cookies are an incredibly effective way for websites to deliver a more personal experience to their visitors. Variants of cookies can also be used to not only track your activity on a single website, but also your browsing history and overall online behaviour.
Tracking cookies and third-party cookies are used to compile long-term records of your personal online activity. This information is what third party ad-serving companies will use to target their clients’ promotions to you, based on your presumed personal interests, and even advertise them at a time when your online behaviour is deemed to be “ripe for a sale”. Although this targeted way of promoting products can be effective (it has prompted me to follow up on a product or two in the past), it can feel quite Orwellian in its nature.
The pre-internet equivalent of this targeted advertising activity (with tracking or third-party cookies) would have involved someone placing you under constant surveillance while you shopped and record the products you looked at, then follow you around with adverts related to your presumed interests and at times when you were most likely to make a purchase. Would this type of advertising strategy have been seen as acceptable? I don’t think so, but advertisers are able to achieve the same effect online without becoming overtly intrusive on our personal lives.
In 2011, a program was launched by the Digital Advertising Alliance called AdChoices to give people the option to opt out of advertising companies using their online behaviour to present personalised promotions. You may well have seen the AdChoices blue triangular icon in the corner of many banners, but most consumers are not aware of its function or purpose – market research by Parks Associates shows that awareness of AdChoices only grew from 5% in 2011 to 6% in 2013.
So, our online activity is being monitored (to some degree). On the plus side, we are now seeing more relevant promotions while third-party advertising supports free content on many sites. Also, there is a setting on your browser (not too easy to find for some) in which you can block third-party cookies, so we do have a choice. But I wonder where all this tracking activity will lead us and if there will come a point where the “Cookie Monsters” will have overstepped the mark in terms of personal privacy. Who knows what the next 20 years will bring?
There are more than 3 billion people connected to the Internet and by interacting online and sharing thoughts, pictures, writing blogs and creating forums and communities with shared interests, they have created a vast social hub. People can end up spending more time online than in real life, which leads to some funny situations. It is the place to be, the place to meet. It’s also how consumers talk to brands and where the brand can talk to us. And that’s where it becomes challenging, but also very interesting.
At a time when everyone is over-connected, many brands don’t necessarily understand the role they can play on social media and the necessity to engage with it. The time when brands only had an information-only website is over. People now want a site that has everything they are looking for, allows them to express themselves and to have that feeling of being special. They may have a question or a comment, they may want to receive regular updates in a format that is more convenient for them and they may want to be informed about exclusive offers or get the news before everyone else. Social media is an ideal medium for this.
Many brands think you simply have to create a Facebook page or a Twitter account. But brands need to consider why they are doing this (raising awareness, creating an online community, encouraging people to buy?) and what are the best platforms to achieve their objectives. Marketeers need to be innovative in order to be noticed, to adapt to a new audience (mostly younger) with a bespoke tone of voice and to consider the fact that a social media campaign should be part of their communication strategy.
The time when a brand could simply post on Facebook and see their fan base grow is over. Facebook is making it more and more difficult to reach out to people, even when they like a page. Each user has an average of 338 friends on Facebook and likes an average of 89 pages. A brand’s post can easily be lost in the middle of the newsfeeds, especially since Facebook’s algorithm favours friends’ posts rather than those from brands. In 2014, organic impressions on Facebook (as opposed to paid media) declined by 32%, encouraging brands to adopt a pay-to-play system of advertising.
If this has now prompted brands to have a media budget for social media, it has also given them enormous analytical power. Indeed, with all the tools that exist, a brand can target people by region, age, gender, language, interest, behaviour, and so on, and measure with precision how many people actually saw their post, clicked on it and engaged with it. Eventually, a brand can tell how many sales it generated. What PR campaign is capable of doing that?
Brands can have access to so much data because everything that a person does online is traced, from searched keywords and visited websites and pages to information given on social platforms. The Internet has become an enormous database that any marketeer is now eager to use although, according to IBM, 90% of the world’s data has been generated only in the past two years, and less than 1% of that data has so far been analysed.
Brands such as Walmart and Amazon already understand that the challenge over the next few years is how to maximise all the pieces of information given by their consumers on any given digital platform and support (website, newsletter, social media), how to collect them, store them, analyse them and use them in the best possible way. The objective will be to understand what motivates the customer to visit a website and purchase a product. Theoretically, it’s a goldmine of data for brands… And as a result, we can expect some fascinating projects and offers over the next few years!
One thing needs to be kept in mind, though: consumers have started to realise that free digital platforms are supporting themselves by using users’ data and that personalised offers have a cost. Some platforms have started to see the number of their subscribers decrease as people don’t want to give private details to be used by marketeers.
On both the brands’ and the consumers’ sides, nothing seems to really be free online anymore…