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Day Three: OmniShopper threads – a day in reverse

- Aaron Keller and Kitty Hart, Capsule

The last day of a conference can be deserted and lonely, but that wasn’t the case for OmniShopper this year. We can figure out who to attribute this to or just mark it up to the venue and content rich experience participants had already received. Whatever the case, it was well worth staying through to the last speaker of the day.

For the sake of turning this on its head, let’s start from the last presentation and finish with the first. Crayola was the quiet finisher with relevance derived from the adult coloring phenomenon happening all around us. The research they have done was the kind of work we should all be proud to share. The findings were used to deliver a new merchandising approach and (if we can say so ourselves) a philosophy that goes beyond the all too common “stack it up and let it fly” approach to merchandising. If you missed this one, get the slide deck, you’ll enjoy the nuggets.

Though, we’d like to warn you on one overlooked detail by many presenters throughout the three days. Most slide presentations were so poorly designed it was hard on the eyes of any average human being. By day two, we almost put out an offer on Twitter to redesign everyone’s presentation before walking into these high impact speaking engagements. Respect the audience and design a presentation that’s a pleasure to view, or just get up there and talk. The world would be a better place.

The Hanes brand was another presentation with great content hidden behind troubled design. We peeled away the crusty seal and looked closer to what C+R Research did with the Hanes team and the methods were intriguing, elegant and thorough. Studying the online buying behavior of women buying bras and panties is not the most common study and the team handled it with loving care. Their findings were used to make an impact on Hanes revenue and improved digital merchandising. We, of course, couldn’t get past how many times we heard the word “panties” in a research presentation. Setting aside the cluttered presentation deck, the content was what we’d hope and expect at OmniShopper. 
Moving to the morning sessions we were treated to a dynamic author and voice for women in retail, Bridget Brennan. She facilitated a panel of ConAgra, PepsiCo and Unilever in a dynamic discussion on the relationship between retailers and manufacturer brands, the impact of digital and the efforts they are proud to share about their own research efforts. Having these three heads on the stage was a worthy gathering and the discussion was precisely facilitated by the Why She Buys author. 
On the topic of women as the economic engine of our future, Bridget delivered a fair number of stats many of us know, but she also delivered trends from her lens on the world. She mentioned the fact that the US childbirth rate is below 2.0. She posed a curious question in our minds. If this childbirth trend happens worldwide, what would be the result for the planet? 
Other nuggets like the Mini-Me phenomenon offered further evidence of the purchasing power women have in our economy. Now, if only we could get advertising (men) to notice women as an audience (specifically 50+ women). Oh yeah, that’s right the most popular television show a couple years back was MadMen. I guess we’ve still got a long way to go. Keep up the hard work, Bridget. We look forward to your next book titled: “F*#kyou MadMen, we’re MadWomen: Why madmen need to pay more attention to madwomen.” Kidding. (But we give you our permission to use this title.) 
The first keynote this morning from Seth Shapiro was a bit all over the place and left us wondering when he would get to some good stuff. He did arrive there, just took him longer than a morning audience can usually handle. The good stuff was his augmented and virtual reality perspective, which certainly made some of us dream of an augmented reality where we could FFWD the first part of his presentation. 
We can’t conclude our thoughts on OmniShopper without giving a nod to the talented couple from The Future Hunters. They did the opening act for a third and most challenging day of a conference with grace and style. They pulled audience participation out like it was water coming from a bunch of rocks sitting on slightly padded chairs. It is a thankless job as they never hear the applause for their work. Erica and Jared, the next time you hear an applause, that one was for you, no matter who was on stage. 
Here’s the last thread we’d like to note, again and again. Design, from the larger version of the word (designing moments and conversations) to the smaller version of the word (designing better presentations) was heard many times. Let’s keep that word woven into research conferences and when you get a chance to attend a design conference (FUSE) make sure research is woven into those conversations. 
Designing something means you more thoughtfully consider an audience and context, while looking to have them feel something from what you’ve designed. There are few things with more need for design than a shopper insights and research conference, so it was good to hear it come up so often. 
If you need more inspiration, check out our book, Physics of Brand. We look forward to hearing what you thought of the day, the conference and the conversations you had while attending.
Thanks to all those who stayed until the end. Remember…

Aaron Keller, Principal
I am an author, strategist, researcher, cyclist, reader 
and consummate entrepreneur. When an interesting 
idea crosses my path, I find any way we can bring it 
to life. Earning an MBA from the Carlson School and 
numerous valuable credits at the school of hard knocks, 
I’ll sit at a boardroom conversation with anyone. 
Want to talk business strategy, consumer behavior 
and design? Oh, it’s on.

Kitty Hart, Director
I am the HartofCapsule, caring for our clients, friends, 

colleagues and partners. When I’m not deep in strategy
and design thought, I dream of belting out Diana Krall 
tunes in the blue haze of a nightclub. Until that dream 
is realized, I help Capsule’s clients understand and rise 
above business challenges through designed conversations.