Desperate for a Digital Detox

Digital Detox

The latest smartphone model used to be the pinnacle of luxury, but now, time away from that device has usurped it as the commodity people most crave.

What happened?

The technology that helped simplify lives, fortify connections and spread access to information has in some cases eliminated human connection. Smartphones carry the guise of allowing a user to multitask, but this digital convenience can lead to real-world accidents—think texting while driving.

Add to the equation that the world seems to be on fire—literally and figuratively. A constant stream of headlines regarding natural disasters, political division and socioeconomic instability is delivered straight to phones, serving as a perpetual reminder of the chaos of the surrounding world.

There’s a greater reliance than ever on technology, with one study finding that consumers spend an average of five hours a day on their phones, a tally that nears 11 weeks annually.[1] That’s why cell phone addiction—and its potential side effects—is becoming more of a concern. Research suggests that addiction to technology is associated with anxiety, sleep deprivation, and other physical and mental ailments,[2] contributing to the growing trend of digital detoxes in which an individual purposefully disconnects with their mobile devices.

With 47% of consumers admitting to limiting their use of mobile devices,[3] it’s no surprise that the travel industry offers entire vacations around the concept of going tech-free through digital detox packages. From sailing trips to detox safaris, operators aim to provide a level of immersion that keeps you present. The Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel incentivizes the surrender of devices upon check in with vouchers for kayaking, books, cards and board games. It’s the realization of the idea that time wasted on devices could be better spent engaging in experiences—a literal exchange of one for the other.

A more affordable way to detox is simply to try spending time away from one’s phone. That’s the rationale behind National Day of Unplugging, a project that encourages a 24-hour break from mobile devices. It’s a way to be more mindful, or more aware, of what one is doing, to temper the relationship between human and device. Mindfulness is a natural partner of digital detoxes, since it requires a consumer to consciously devote thought to something done automatically, like checking a phone for notifications.

That said, it’s not necessary to ditch the device altogether to escape the digital drudge. It may seem counterintuitive to rely on a device to help disconnect from it, but there are smartphone apps that exist to help users simultaneously unplug and practice self-care. The meditation app Headspace serves as a primer on mindfulness, with guided meditations that can assist a person in becoming more conscious of digital behavior. Mute, an app that tracks the amount of time spent on a device each day, asks users to account for their phone usage, sending alerts when a certain level of usage is reached. The logic behind these apps is that awareness can contribute to a healthier relationship with devices.

Any brand can support the disconnecting trend by considering ways to enable non-digital behavior. The point isn’t to do away with technology, but to be more mindful of how it affects day-to-day life. It’s a reminder that while technology supports our lives in many ways, the reverse is not true—our lives do not exist to support technology.

[1] http://flurrymobile.tumblr.com/post/157921590345/us-consumers-time-spent-on-mobile-crosses-5
[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-mentality/201802/could-you-be-addicted-technology
[3] https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/global-mobile-consumer-survey-us-edition.html

When D2C is Your CTA

A Young Business Girl Uses Megaphone

It’s a buyer’s world—we’re just living in it. At least that’s the takeaway from the unstoppable growth in the direct-to-consumer (D2C) sphere. Shoppers are turning to brands that sell exactly what they want—conveniently, directly and frequently online. Two-thirds of consumers expect direct connectivity with a brand,[1] paving the way for success for digital-focused brands eschewing the traditional model of selling product through a retail partner.

The conveniences inherent in online shopping have directly impacted the growth of D2C brands, not only by removing the need to shop at a brick-and-mortar location, but by eliminating the cost of selling through a middle-man. The result? Higher quality products at affordable prices. Smart luggage provider Away says it best with its tagline: “First class luggage at coach prices.” The brand’s suitcases use the same materials as luggage that costs three times as much, but by owning production, marketing, distribution and sales, Away is able to provide quality at a lower cost.

Some of the most successful D2C brands have built a business model based on expertise. Rather than produce a variety of products like retail giants of the past, successful D2C brands focus on a single category—and frequently, a single product. Consider men’s grooming company Harry’s, which launched with just one razor. After being inundated with options in the shaving aisle, founder Andy Katz-Mayfield sought to simplify the razor shopping process. Using his experience as a shopper, Katz-Mayfield created one style of high-quality razor, bypassing the need to sift through the myriad options at the store. Focusing efforts on the one razor allowed Harry’s to be viewed as a category leader despite being newer to the market than more established brands.

The D2C model also lends itself to a price transparency that customers will soon come to expect as the norm. D2C clothing manufacturer Everlane breaks down the exact cost of producing an article of clothing, from materials to labor to hardware, for every item for sale on its website. This “true cost” is displayed adjacent to the price at which Everlane sells the item, and also compared to the much higher price at which a traditional retailer lists a similar item. With nearly 40% of consumers saying they would switch to a brand that is more transparent,[2] this tactic is more than just a way to showcase the value to the customer—it allows brands to develop personal relationships with their audience.

The stories D2C brands cultivate are the natural continuation of a more transparent relationship with customers who feel increasingly comfortable discussing their affinity for brands they trust. D2C brands are harnessing the power of user-generated content, in which people share their experiences with a product, to both study and broadcast what they’ve learned about their audience. Rent the Runway, a company through which users can rent and return designer clothing, fills its Instagram with reposted images of consumers who have tagged the company in their social posts. Their feed reflects the desire of their community: real women living their best lives affordably. Rather than buying their audience through television or print ads, D2C brands are creating their audience—and proudly showing them off.

There are lessons to be learned from D2C brands even if adopting the sales model is not always feasible. Namely that specificity is key and transparency is the future. An understanding of the fundamentality of these two concepts will help brands as they seek to foster deeper relationships with consumers in a digital-focused world.

[1] https://www.iab.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/The-Direct-Brand-Economy-Master-Deck-v17.pdf
[2] https://www.cision.com/us/2017/12/transparency-key-to-brand-loyalty/

How Do Your Customers Get Their Web? Browser? App? OTA?

marketing_virtual_realityAs the web gets larger and larger, its access points get smaller and smaller. Soon they may even be invisible.

Browser-access is antiquated

Going fast are the days of using a desktop web browser for online commerce. Recent Nielsen data clearly shows that the trend for mobile Internet access favors mobile platforms (iOS, Android, etc.) by 90%[1]. Traditional desktop layouts are over-complicated for smaller touch-screens, draining battery life, clogging download speeds, and wasting valuable bytes of data downloads via a cellular connections. The first correction was the platform-adaptive web design – a simple solution for those who require only a basic Internet presence. But for greater consumer interaction, let’s look at the app.

The App is the current state of online access

User-friendly apps (applications) are ‘micro programs’ that streamline layout, options, and access directly to a specific commercial or industrial entity. Retail business apps offer QRC and barcode scanning options, insurance apps offer online claim forms with pop-up selections rather than character-entered data, content and media providers like Netflix or The New York Times offer episode lists, articles, and subscription information directly to the consumer with no distribution middle-man. Voice command systems like Siri and Google Now bypass the keyboard entirely, so that the consumer doesn’t have to scroll through a list of options – the mobile device does that for you far more efficiently.

The future is OTA

Following through with this kind of innovation, we see online access being built directly into the product itself. Just as apps make online access faster, easier, and more direct, Over The Air (OTA) information systems will challenge the way brands interact with their followers and customers. Amazon’s Echo exists as a stand-alone wireless household information station, feeding families everything from recipes to product prices without even going to a separate device. Tesla Motors is equipping its cars with online functionality to update and upgrade the software performance in its vehicles. Does the idea of your car getting a software update while it sits in your garage at night sound like science fiction? Think again – it’s already here.[2]

What this means for client/consumer interaction

A landing page will be a thing of the past. A scrolling list of options will seem quaint. Modern aggressive marketing means predicting the needs and interests of the client, bypassing slow and costly access to fulfilling them, and offering direct pipelines to do so, in some cases without even having to ask. The ideal Internet is invisible, seamless, self-sufficient – leaving your customers and clients free to focus on all the exciting products and services your company has to offer.

[1] http://www.smartinsights.com/mobile-marketing/mobile-marketing-analytics/mobile-marketing-statistics/
[2] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-01-25/those-pesky-software-updates-now-coming-to-a-car-near-you

 

Move to the Music

 

Selecting workout music can be a difficult task so why not let you body do the choosing? Cue the Jalapeño Beat Maker, a waterproof music player that lets your body movement control the tunes it plays. The device works in two ways: the Multi-Track mode, which will mix up to four track layers, including drums, guitar, base and vocals, and sync them with your body’s rhythm. The One-Track mode taps into you personal music library and matches the music to your movements. Happy grooving!

Trend Alert: JOMO

 

Between digital detox treatments, meditation apps and the Slow Food movement, it seems 2014 is the year of JOMO: The Joy of Missing Out. “Mindfulness” is the word, and everyone from Arianna Huffington to Maite Baron, CEO of The Corporate Escape, are espousing the benefits of saying no to social (and social media) obligations in order to focus on the here and now, and in turn expand creativity and gain peace of mind. This comes at an interesting time, considering the heavily anticipated wearable technology revolution that Google Glass & Co. will be forging in the upcoming months. To connect or not to connect? That is the question.

This Mask of the Future Wants You to Sleep Better

 

Sleep scientists in Poland are hard at work on the quest to get us snoozing the way we should. They’re testing a mask that monitors sleep with striking precision, waking us up when we’re most well-rested and tracking the quality of our sleep throughout the night. They’ve even created features to minimize jet lag, with a customized travel schedule to ease you in and out of changing time zones. Looks like it will be a few years—but we’ll be waiting in line for this one. [Source: Fast Company]

There’s a New App in Town

 

Move over Words With Friends, Sayonara Fruit Ninja and Candy Crush. QuizUp is here, and apparently, it’s the fastest-growing iPhone game in history. The new smartphone addiction received its millionth user on its eighth day and the average player spends 40 minutes a day playing the game. To sum up Plain Vanilla CEO Thor Fridriksson’s tricks to creating a successful app:

 

1.     Latch onto an existing brand

2.     Keep it simple

3.     Continually add content

4.     Stay specific

5.     Cater to show-offs

6.     Go social

 

So, are you game?