Tag Archives: @mallofamerica

Day Two: OmniShopper threads and nuggets…

- Aaron Keller and Kitty Hart, Capsule

Future Hunters warmed up the Tuesday (slightly hungover) crowd rather nicely. It isn’t an easy task to deliver on the role of opening act, entertainer and experts in trend. The team of Erica and Jared did it again and certainly with a more cantankerous crowd than Monday as many cocktails were likely consumed just six hours earlier. Thank you for the caffeine for our brains to get us going.
The man, the Nobel prize winning author and the icon in behavioral economics was on the stage next. Daniel Kahneman, the author of Thinking, Fast and Slow sat for a discussion with Anthony Gell, author of The Book of Leadership. To start, let’s all acknowledge Mr. Gell’s exceptional job of interviewing such a brilliant mind without being tongue-tied. Now, to a hero of ours, Daniel gave us pages from his book but in his voice and while he didn’t translate for shopper marketing it was worth every word. Just listening to how Daniel’s mind works was insightful. If you need more on his models, the book is your best resource. It should be a required read for any research, finance or marketing department in any corporation. 
The next group on the stage was a panel of Sumaiya Balbale from Jet.com, John R. Whitaker from Lowe’s and Emily Shannon from Mall of America. Emily was a returning face to the big stage and she continued to deliver unique nuggets beyond her content from yesterday (also not easy). Sumaiya gave us a quantity of nuggets from the frugal next generation of shoppers who default to digital. John Whitaker balanced physical and digital with how relevant Lowe’s is within Pinterest while still being a retailer with designed moments in a physical space. 
The subject was the future of retail, which is facing some tremendous challenges with Alibaba, Amazon and others moving so much of buying online. And, with some countries in the world going from open markets to digital markets and skipping “the mall” economic phase entirely. Based on what we heard, retail has a vibrant future when it is properly blended between physical and digital. For some of you this is confirming, but for others it may be helpful to know retail has been around, will be around and the ability to understand what happens in the moment when people and brands intersect will always be important. 
Our sleepy session, Kirk Olson from Horizon Media surprised the crowd with so many morsels of intriguing content it formed a moment of people asking for his presentation. While it didn’t look interesting on face (printed) value, Kirk delivered a full meal deal (sorry, McDonalds) for this audience of curious minds. While we gathered some of the items in a Twitter feed under #OmniShopperEvent your best bet is downloading the pages of his presentation and carving it up yourself. It is well worth the space on your hard drive. 
Now, a bit on the conversations in-between. With some breaks, a lunch and other hallway conversations we discovered some of the larger threads of yarn from the morning. Here they are: 1. Cognitive Biases and how do we see beyond these to understand true human behavior; 2. The future of retail is bright and the design of moments is a big part of it; 3. The trends coming from wearables, getting back to authentic stories and vintage high-touch experiences. The morning had plenty of fuel for some empty brain tanks.
The afternoon slid a bit as the crowd may not have been into the conversations or perhaps we heard the term millennials just a few too many times. Whatever the case, the afternoon speakers had a larger uphill climb to get us back. Celeste Ireland spoke on telling stories with data and gave us a peak inside the culture of Maple Leaf Foods. From here we got a taste (actually no samples provided) of what Hershey is doing to break through some hard shell congestive biases in retail. While the lack of samples left this writer sorely disappointed, Kindle Partica delivered a concise and content rich speech with brain science, chocolate studies and a great case study with results. The lack of chocolate was overcome with great content. BTW, Welch’s provided samples in their presentation. Just saying…
Last, the bonus from the day came from the number of times our favorite behavioral economist and Nobel winner mentioned the word design. Daniel Kahneman is a big fan of the design world and repeatedly spoke to the importance of design with purpose. We haven’t met many economists and certainly few who talk about the importance of design. The birds sang and the words painted rainbows in our heads each time Daniel spoke (unprompted) on the subject of design. 
Hello world, we are a design firm and we’re here to help, reach out when you would like to talk. We’d love to hear more challenging problems to solve. It’s the stuff that keeps us energized. 
Now, let’s get some rest (in the form of a cold glass -or five- of Pinot Grigio) and we will see you back here tomorrow for day three. 
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
@HartofCapsule
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.

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

Day One: OmniShopper threads from the sessions…

- Aaron Keller and Kitty Hart, Capsule

The Future Hunter’s Erica Orange and Jared Weiner got us started with some opening remarks. The warm up was worthy and got us all pressing forward into a day of data, mobile, shopping experiences, authenticity and granule insights on human behaviors. 
Jessica from Saatchi & Saatchi X forced us into a conversation about emotion and the contrast with the big “asterisk” data conversation. She made a case for a complement with the rational data we use in the form of “gut” check and the importance of emotion. Jessica’s story of CoverGirl was certainly a good example, putting emotion on a pallet and selling it in Walmart. Yes, emotion on a pallet. 
Our next discussion was led by Todd Henry, the author of Louder Than Words. His story of asking people to walk along a plank of wood on the floor vs a plank 100 ft in the air and how the risk / reward equation changes helped clarify the risks we ask people to take when taking on new opportunities. But, Todd’s best story which came out of his more recent book, Die Empty, used a tree metaphor. The idea was presented by a DJ he met who talked about going out on a branch and Todd asking the snarky question, “what happens if you go too far out on the branch and it gives way?” The DJ had a brilliant response. The branch falls and starts to grow a new tree (fan base, participants and revenue are the tree). This is a natural metaphor for how innovation happens, by going far enough away from the tree trunk out on a branch. Nature is so beautiful. 
From here we digitally walked into one of the North America’s largest shopping centers, the Mall of America. Emily Shannon walked us through all the trials and tribulations of managing the digital strategy for a gargantuan mall. She had some amazing points and insights, but the threads pulled into the next discussions included the text response team (which we tested and tweeted the results), her perspective on beacon technology, augmented reality and the power of digital media blended with physical spaces for a “phygital” experience. Her example of the “Twizzard” was a brilliant example of a snowstorm of tweets inside the Mall of America. A blizzard without frostbite, but plenty of digital content to enjoy, finally chocolate has some competition for our attention. 
The next sessions were breakouts and the conversations in between. The ConAgra Foods conversation was around wearables and food brands. With a mere big toe dip into the possible data coming from mobile, Thatcher Schulte had the crowd looking on with open mouths and wide eyes. The term “big data” needs a rebrand to “huge effin gargantuan data” once you add in mobile and human data from all the human / technology interaction data points. Could someone get on that rebrand? Soon. 
The Red Bull presentation with InfoScout was a waterfall dive into what Red Bull knows and (strangely enough) doesn’t know about the crazy people who buy their drinks. It surprised us how much was unknown for such a dynamic brand like Red Bull. Yet, we shouldn’t be, the shopper insights world needs to be scaled to match the number of unique places you can shop. Red Bull is certainly bought in a large variety of venues and consumed in an even larger contrast of spaces and places. The point seemed to be, even with all the resources Red Bull has, it is still a constant and deliberate hunt to find more knowledge on the human being consuming your brand. 
Now to the conversations in between. We were pleasantly surprised by the number of tweets, instagram photos and updates in social media on the conference. We were equally pleased by how much attention our book, The Physics of Brand, is getting with this analytical crowd. The world of research is just as hungry for new thinking and content as our typical design world.
We are looking for research partners interested in participating in client engagements with our team around this new articulation of brand-thought in the book. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss this in more detail. 
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
@HartofCapsule

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.