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Things that caught my eye this week

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Positive Brand Friction is a report that looks at the impact of customer experience on brand and how to get the best benefit out of it in the long term. The report was launched by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) at the Effworks Global Conference.

Positive Brand Friction identifies a number of factors that increase the complexity in customer experience:

  • CX is usually designed around business functions rather than the customer
  • Ownership (but not necessarily responsiblity) falls under different business functions. Collaboration and swift decision making become even more important
  • The conflict between identifiable efficiency gains through cost reductions versus more variable returns through effectiveness and value-growth focus
  • Investment differences between operating expenditure (OPEX) and capital expenditure (CAPEX). This can make it harder for marketing to deliver long term value where OPEX is reduced

Positive Brand Friction identifies four areas of focus for organisations and their agencies:

  • Experience intelligence / measurement. Measurement, insights and reporting system to discovers places where the experience can be improved
  • Collaboration rather than individual ownership of the experience. This also results in a customer focused culture
  • Evolving to get the right balance of positive brand friction without impacting on customer effort
  • Marketing growing into its role as the experience leader and influencer balancing customer and business value

More here.

Kazakhstan gets their reputation work in to balance the new Borat film on Amazon Prime Video. Rather than righteous indignation, they’ve respun Borat’s catch phrase and put together a number of short spots that challenge viewers expectations of Kazakhstan.

Big Daddy Kane is one of the unsung heroes of hip-hop, Micro-Chip put together this great essay on him. Take out 15 minutes and give it a read: Big Daddy Kane’s Voice is an Instrument – Micro-Chop.

I happened to come across this Doug DeMuro video reviewing the BMW X5 M Competition. I haven’t suddenly turned into a car nut, but I found DeMuro’s dive into the unusual aspects of the driver experience was fascinating. What becomes apparent is how much digital has become part of the car. Look at the remote finger-twirling gesture control to alter audio volume at 7:00 in. It all feels very laboured compared to other digital products and too feature heavy.

More on design related content here.

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ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우에 대비해서

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Apple’s Shifting Supply Chain Creates Boomtowns in Rural Vietnam – Bloomberg – Vietnam is becoming the new China. While China has been impacted by problems of its own making, resulting in diversification of supply chains and trade disputes. This Vietnam build-out feels very much like build out in China during the late 1990s and the early 2000s after China joined the World Trade Organisation. Vietnam is now likely to experience double-digit growth. Hopefully Vietnam will climb up the value chain in a similar way to China. Vietnam is already a great place to develop software and applications. More Vietnam related posts here.

Apple develops alternative to Google search | Financial Times“Any reasonable search engine has to have 20bn-50bn pages in its active index,” Mr Ramaswamy said. When a user runs a query, the retrieval system must sift through vast troves of data then rank them in milliseconds. Some observers still dismiss the idea of Apple creating a complete search rival to Google. Dan Wang, associate professor of business at Columbia Business School, said it would be “extremely difficult” for Apple ever to catch up. “Google’s advantage comes from scale,” he said, as the endless user feedback helps to tune results and identify areas of improvement. “Google gets hundreds of millions of queries every minute from users all over the world — that’s an enormous advantage when it comes to data.” – Apple needs search for its app store, mapping services, media services and even on device. It doesn’t necessarily mean that Apple will do a ‘Google’

Army of avatar robots readies to invade Japanese job market – Nikkei Asia – stocking shelves in a FamilyMart

Apple develops alternative to Google search | Financial Times – explains Apple’s massive amount of overcapacity in their datacentre space for the past decade as they built around the world

Chinese retailer Miniso beats Uniqlo and Muji at their game – Nikkei Asia – interesting profile of Miniso. What becomes apparent is how Luckin Coffee has poisoned the well with investors for Chinese retailing businesses

Surveillance Startup Used Own Cameras to Harass Coworkers | Vice News – not terribly surprised that this was in their sales team. It fits right in with the sales cultures I have known

25 Years In Speech Technology. …and I still don’t talk to my computer. | by Matthew Karas | Oct, 2020 | Medium – great essay on voice technology on computers (including smartphones)

German spy chief Gerhard Schindler: China is poised to dominate the world | World | The TimesGerhard Schindler, who led the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) from 2011 to 2016, said Germany needed to curb its “strategic dependence” on Beijing and ban Huawei from its 5G mobile phone network. He also warned that Angela Merkel’s liberal approach to the 2015 migrant crisis had left Germany with a “large reservoir” of young Muslim men susceptible to violence and jihadist ideology, and that the true scale of the danger was only now becoming clear.

UK risks road rage with China in Africa – POLITICOUnited States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy told a Congressional hearing in 2019 that Washington was “weaponizing” its African embassies “to confront China on a whole range of issues, most prominently a commercial one.” Westcott, from the Royal Africa Society, pointed out that Britain was so far aiming to maintain its own influence in Africa rather than reduce Chinese influence — but that it could take a more aggressive approach in future, for example attempting to outbid China for projects.

How The Epoch Times Created a Giant Influence Machine – The New York TimesThe Epoch Times was a small, low-budget newspaper with an anti-China slant that was handed out free on New York street corners. But in 2016 and 2017, the paper made two changes that transformed it into one of the country’s most powerful digital publishers. The changes also paved the way for the publication, which is affiliated with the secretive and relatively obscure Chinese spiritual movement Falun Gong, to become a leading purveyor of right-wing misinformation. First, it embraced President Trump, treating him as an ally in Falun Gong’s scorched-earth fight against China’s ruling Communist Party, which banned the group two decades ago – the enemy of my enemy is my friend. I see this as a failure of liberal politicians engaging with a plurality of opinions about China.

The Belt and Road Strategy Has Backfired on Xi | Palladium MagazineThe Belt and Road is less a geoeconomic power play than a marketing strategy. Few of the myriad projects and investment schemes labeled ‘Belt and Road’ exist because of the initiative as such. Grand strategists in Beijing did not cause the tremendous outbound flows of money, men, and material that comprise Belt and Road, and they cannot direct it either. What statesmen like Xi Jinping do have power to influence is how these flows are understood and perceived by the world

How Did China Beat Its Covid Crisis? | by Ian Johnson | The New York Review of Books – ambiguous lessons on handling COVID-19

WeChat ban a catch-22 for Chinese Australians – The China Storysome members of the Chinese Australian community have created parallel chat groups on WhatsApp, Letstalk, Line or Telegram in case of a local WeChat ban. But they continue to be drawn back to WeChat as their main social media platform. Why do members of the Chinese diaspora choose to self-censor when they have many other options available? The answer may lie in platform affordances available in WeChat as well as techno-material features of the app that produce ‘habits’, engender ‘necessity’ and provide users with a sense of ‘vitality’.

Inside Out: China’s Forgotten Domestic Politics – The China Story – China digging itself into a soft power hole

Adobe’s new AI experiment syncs your dance moves perfectly to the beat | The Next WebI was thinking about the effect that quantisation had on music software in the early 1990s which allowed for perfect beat synching (in theory, though MIDI and USB could throw that off slightly

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Consumerology by Philip Graves

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Consumerology taps into Phil Graves experience as a consultant on consumer behaviour.

In the book, he draws on experience in retail marketing and classic marketing case studies such as New Coke. These examples show the numerous ways in which marketing fails to understand consumers.

Consumer.ology
Consumerology by Philip Graves

Much of the tried and true testing methods used make consumer marketing decisions have their own built in biases and affect the results that marketers use to base major decisions on.

AFECT criteria

In Consumerology, Graves recommends a set of criteria to assess any research project against. The more that the research project aligns with these principles, the less likely it is to be adversely affected by consumer or marketer bias.

A – Analysis of behavioural data. Does the research look at consumer behaviour or not? If it doesn’t look at some aspect of consumer behaviour, it isn’t valuable.

F – Where the consumers in the right frame of mind? Where they observed whilst in a retail experience, making a purchase?

E – Environment. What is the context of the content. Research that isn’t observational / behavioural in nature should at least be done where retail decisions happen. Environment is bound together with frame of mind.

C – Covert study. Being aware of being observed affects behaviour. Think about the use of close circuit TV and fisheye mirrors to try and prevent casual shoplifting.

T – Timeframe. Did the timeframe of the study match the timeframe that consumers would typically use themselves?

Other book reviews here.