Graj + Gustavsen
Simon's Microblog
My Magical Mobile Device
My Magical Mobile Device

My magical mobile device can find anything I want. Any product, any brand, any place or a review amongst an endless spectrum. For marketers, speaking to individuals is not much different.

Sizing up people has been evolving from demographic, to psychographic, to behavioral, to all of those together. In the near future, the segmentation of groups = mass-marketing, is giving way to mass-customization, where the focus is on ONE individual at a time. Each with profile and passion that should not be treated as part of a bundle or niché bucket, but rather as individuals deserving special and personal attention and made possible by today's tech advances.

When working with Harley-Davidson, what is still lighting up my imagination is the fact that when you buy a bike, it is only the first step of the experience. The question that is asked of every rider is, not only what kind of bike did you buy, but what did you do to it. Customized by the rider is what makes Harley-Davidson Co a brand that treats every customer in that special and unique way.

We are all originals.

Funny in the Wrong Way
Funny in the Wrong Way

There is something uncomfortably awkward about many brands that try to advocate aspirational qualities, suggesting to the consumer that copy-catting these brands is all it takes to gain success and be cool.

Brands stuck in the middle or maturing fast and ready to be mentors at best but need to pass it on to new breed extensions.

This "emulate me” approach is where there is an issue with today’s “wised up” consumer. Come of age marketing management of consumers is so old and predictable that the modern consumer can see it coming.

The below video on "How to Disco" is how these brands are beginning to feel. Funny in the wrong way.

The #1 Hazard
The #1 Hazard

When companies try to identify and revitalize their brand identity, some tend to dismiss or gloss over actions that may have seriously damaged the brand in the past or ignore the loss of relevancy. Management often wants to hang on to a vision of the brand, which is no longer valid but emotionally, they just can’t give it up. They try to relive history and appeal to an appreciation for the brand that has long since disappeared. This syndrome is probably the #1 hazard facing brand operators and owners.

Add to it the demise of seduction, as a marketing tactic, combined with brands aging quicker, makes for an irrelevent profile, however cool they try to be. Often, the embarrassing recessitation efforts are celebrated in the company hallways, appeasing and convincing eachother of what is not true.

(Art by Ellsworth Kelly, White Diagonal II, 2008)

Creative Breakthroughs
Creative Breakthroughs

So many creative breakthroughs result from weaving together unlike threads:

• Georges de Mestral, a Swiss electrical engineer, didn’t cook up the science behind Velcro in a lab. The principle came to him looking at burrs picked up by his dog on a hunting trip.

• Back in 1986 in Colombia, Beto Perez was teaching an aerobics class. One day, he forgot his music tape. Why not substitute merengue and salsa tracks instead? Presto, the birth of Zumba!

Sometimes, simple resourcefulness cobbles incredible creativity. On other occasions, it’s the willingness to make the most of unexplained links between the wildly unconnected. Almost always, it’s the power of intuition. Intuition is what disconnects button-downed, linear thinking. You’ll never find the unfound by racing to it with the fastest engine on the block. Turn down an appealing side street. Suddenly, you can be face to face with a gigantic possibility. Who knows? Maybe even the next Apple…Patagonia…or Amazon.

(La Combe III [1951] by my favorite artist (Ellsworth Kelly)

What kind of person are you?
What kind of person are you?
Yesterday, brand and niche lifestyle marketing pursued a single-minded target:
"What kind of person are you?"
Today’s target marketing expands the question:
"What kind of person are you now, and how do I serve you best at this moment?"
The operative question isn’t "Who are you?”, but "Who are you when?"

We have entered a world which could be likened to theatre.
Today, our lives are a series of experiences, identities, and styles.
The roles we play are just that… roles. We now realize that a cookie cutter profile of a customer is outdated.
In an evolved human network, we are attracted to diversity and tastes that, until just a little while ago, were one dimensional.
Now we are multidimensional and realizing this is an emerging new platform of individuality.
Guidepost Rules
Guidepost Rules
Occasionally I'm asked to share what guidepost “rules” we have learned in the recent past. Surely, the following list has its flaws, but these assertions underpin a lot of success we have seen…and shared in:

• True, sustainable success has to be scalable.

• Don’t think too much. Let it come to you. If the solution isn’t obvious, it’s not the right solution.

• Detachment empowers creativity. Innocence breeds the best ideas. Detach oneself from predetermined outcomes. Awareness is the heart of the new intelligence.

• Nurture a culture of discovery. This means starting with a clean slate and discarding the handicap of imposing “success formulas” that may be rooted in a now irrelevent past.

• The marketplace is in a state of rapid transformation from redundancy and complexity to innovation and simplification.

• Customer decision-making is rapidly moving from “buying for no particular reason” to “seeking purpose beyond the transaction.” From consuming products to consuming experiences and from seduction and the lure of image to respect and empowerment.

• The market is moving from demographic to psychographic, from an era where expectations have become extraordinary.
The Biggest Advantage to AI
The Biggest Advantage to AI
The biggest advantage to AI is its lacking of true consciousness.
With a guilt-free and objective pursuit, AI, outfitted with 'mundane, formal, and expert task’ structures, has the potential for unlimited capability in surpassing human intelligence.
The biggest disadvantage to AI is its lacking of true consciousness.
We humans are empathetic creatures, able to feel emotions that both enable us and inhibit us. Our emotional intelligence coupled with awareness, insight, and intuition is irreplaceable. Cultivating these capabilities is natural but scientifically, not part of the equation. These are the nudges and silent cues that allow us to notice the abstract, discern, and “get it”, as if for the first time, even if it’s something we’ve known all along.
Rapidly Robots
Rapidly Robots
Rapidly, robots (and virtual bots) are taking over our jobs: according to one back-of-the-envelope projection, in 50 years, 70 percent of today’s occupations will likewise be replaced by automation.
Should we be worried?
Two hundred years ago, 70 percent of American workers lived on the farm. Today, automation has eliminated all but 1 percent of their jobs, replacing them (and their work animals) with machines. But the displaced workers did not sit idle. Instead, automation created millions of jobs in entirely new fields.
It’s not too early to start preparing for that future.
Looking ahead, curricula that foster creativity, by developing childrens' intrinsic motivation for originality, encouraging their intellectual risk-taking, and cultivating their metacognitive ability to self-reflect, might be a good place to start.
A Sea of Gaming
A Sea of Gaming
On the train home, I gaze over the seats. What do I see? A sea of gaming. Solitaire. Scrabble. Everyone needs a little break.
We live in an overwhelmingly intricate world. Every direct step we take gets deflected or postponed. We yearn to take slam-dunk actions, but direct hits are rare. Each score requires endless backboarding and rebounding. By contrast, gaming delivers an immediate, reliable, and very satisfying result.
In many cases, gaming is a distraction. In a growing way, it’s an opportunity to participate socially. We don’t just want to be affected. We want to have an effect: push a button and make a mark that others can acknowledge. Enjoy a little bit of a win in a public, albeit virtual public.
How can a brand “game” with consumers in respectful, meaningful, and invirgorating ways? Play unleashes great peace, satisfaction, and creativity. That intriguing mindset might be the “marketing with” engine of the future.
Gamifying activities with potential wins is a repeatable, go-to experience.
Thinking is Overrated
Thinking is Overrated
Thinking is overrated.
It comes in the way of:
Observing, noticing, considering, and gleaning.

I love processes, methods, and routines.
For me, they help to free me from being pulled into the weeds.
Not to be distracted or reactive isn't easy.
But, with a little practice in letting thoughts pass.
A doorway to discovery and creativity opens.

Franz Kafka Austrian (Czechoslovakian-born author, 1883-1924):
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
Observe and Discern
Observe and Discern
In the old business world, the decisive emphasis was on information. The more a person knew, the greater the advantage. Today, simply knowing lots of information is no asset. It can be a mammoth, crippling liability. Now, the emphasis is on the ability to observe and discern potential opportunities for innovation.
Your Own Thumbprint
Your Own Thumbprint
Good ideas are especially good when when we originate them.
The value of putting your own thumbprint on something has a higher intrinsic value.
We are living in creative times: making videos, snapping photos, and being eclectic.
Expressing ourselves in creative ways makes us feel unique.
Imagine a design studio, where you can customize utility products and make them your own – a platform like Build a Bear, but, "Build a You.” A playground for customization, instead of adopting a cookie-cutter brand lifestyle, focused on the individual and their personal communities. Today's consumer wants to "cause and contribute to," not "conform to."
The old marketing proverb of “stack ‘em high and let them fly” no longer has wings.
Jump Ahead to Today
Jump Ahead to Today
Jump ahead to today. The living room is decentralized. To a large extent, so is the traditional family. The ideas of a single home TV has vanished. That platform has disappeared, and brands no longer have a center stage to occupy. Brands are now something we experience out of the corners of our eyes.
It's Not About Stuff
Not About Stuff
Retail has always been about the stuff. Times have changed: the marketplace says it’s not about stuff – buy less... more. Ownership is no longer chased as a dream. People want experiences, not the meaningless baggage of undifferentiated stuff. Just give me what I need today. In example, Amazon is pushing the button that gives me what I need to solve the day’s challenges. Online or off, this is as pure a solution as we have yet, and people increasingly expect everything to be that simple.
The New Face
The New Face
The new face of expertise is being a generalist. The world is getting smaller and we are all influenced in diverse ways. Observing the cross-pollination of multiple cultures and industries gives rise to new ideas and opportunities to educate, inspire, and advance economies.
24+ Frames per Second
24 Frames per Second
Great gut knows how to slow down its intake of perceptions. This is a sizable and paradoxical challenge to master. The intense barrage of information is relentless. The need is to absorb and digest it better.
Media images at 24+ frames per second may seem continuous to most of us, but to birds and monks trained in the advanced art of meditation, this frequency looks like a series of still-life snapshots. That’s one reason why a hawk can sweep down from such an enormous height and pinpoint its prey with breath-taking accuracy and agility.
When you increase your perceptive intensity, you also have the ability and the confidence to distinguish distractions from meaningful observations. Rather than compromising your momentum, you actually enable yourself to be more confident and exacting. Here’s another good reason to practice meditation as a business edge, in addition to its health and humanistic advantages.
Master the Footing
Master the Footing
Think intuitively and with conviction. Even with our unprecedented ability to spit out data and analysis, it will never be fast enough to pre-empt today’s ever-changing landscape.
This may seem a little bewildering for the entrepreneur whose risk-taking appetites are second-nature.
Reflecting on a statement the management guru Peter Drucker made about risk, it has staying power even in these turbulent times:

"People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.”

As times change, the trick is not to duck risks. It’s to master the footing that will keep you on your feet when the world rocks.
The Great Wall of Control
The Great Wall
Everything changed when the internet opened up shop.
We all started to speak to each other.
The internet neutralized command-and-control marketing.
When individuals connect with other individuals,
Transparency left no place to hide.
The Great Wall of Control crumbles.
The Consumer Owns the Market
Today, the consumer owns the market — a market that is both global and fragmented, where small is the new big, scanning is the new reading, and insight is superior intelligence.
Brand-owning firms and even agencies tend to repeat using cookie-cutter stencils. They don’t mean to do so, but they do because of using what they know is easier and more efficient than discovery, even when cookie-cutter solutions are unreliable and short-term. True discovery demands courage, and it’s really hard to do. Sadly, most businesses are content with being history-driven.
Today, high-speed disruptive innovation occurs continuously and in every sector of the Marketplace. I recently overnighted at an airbnb one-bedroom rental in one of London’s better neighborhoods. On this trip, my Uber car appeared immediately downstairs. These sharing, matchmaking-economy businesses are making companies and brands obsolete overnight. They are transferring and reconstructing the notion of value. They also reflect the consumer’s valuation shift from the prestige of the brand to the raw quality of the experience. Smart is the new cool. And it’s aspirational.
Burst the Bubble Before It Bursts You
Burst the Bubble
Burst the bubble before it bursts you!
Data science and predictive algorithms can streamline work but they cannot restore command-and control to Marketing.
Data management can help you path trends. It cannot help you spot trends, especially those taking hold in parallel industries.
(By the way, the parallels between widely divergent industries are often far deeper and more similar than we realize!)
The difference between mastering detection and elaboration may be the primary survival skill of the future.
Small is the New Big
Small is the New Big
Market Place is our client - always.
Our collective client.
It’s different now - radically different.
We are living in an era of enlightenment.
New breed of intelligence. The great awakening.
Matching up needs to supply without the middle man.
Brands are less valuable especially the middle brands.
You could say it is a wasteland. The middle that is.
Brand seduction and lifestyle marketed to be emulated is so so old school. The new breed of people want unique stuff, smart solutions for a 24/7 life.
Big brands are less important. But brands that are genuine, small and have a purpose beyond a transaction - easy to understand and enhance a person's life, guide as good coaches are the new breed. You can’t market with seduction anymore - the new status is being yourself, your genuine self - authentic through and through. Empathy is a quality of status. Wearing a 5K bag from LV - well not so much. We are connected and check in when we want assurance.
Small is the new big.
The Age of the"Craft Brew"
Craft Brew
We live in the revitalized age of the "craft brew". In every domain, small brands call the shots. Big brands have sacrificed authenticity on an enormous scale in pursuit of market share. In the future, brand survival will be driven by psychographic criteria as much as financial. Yet many spreadsheet-driven managers dismiss psychographic vectors as sheer voodoo. Brands have inherent psychological, non-quantifiable worth or else they wouldn't exercise their enormous loyalty power. Apply craft-brew values to your brand and measure where you stand on the authenticity scale.
Dated Can Be Deadly
Hillary Clinton
On December 21, 2015, The Wall Street Journal ran an article observing that gas was now cheaper than milk. “At $2 a gallon, gasoline cost 1.6 cents an ounce. Milk costs about 2.6 cents an ounce.” In one of his autobiographies, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins described a conversation that Dawkins’ wife Lalla had with astronaut Neil Armstrong during an airline flight to Tenerife, “They talked of many things, including the remarkable fact – vivid demonstration of Moore’s Law – that the total computer memory on board Apollo 11 (32 kilobytes) was a small fraction of the capacity of a Gameboy that Armstrong pointed out in the possession of a child in a neighboring seat.” Today you can pack away a gigabyte of storage on Google Cloud for (coincidentally) 2.6 cents a month! Times change . . . and they change faster than ever before. The most dangerous relics in our own memory banks are the perilous assumptions we scarcely notice.
The Ascent Of Sensors
Scroll through Business Insider’s list of “8 gadgets that’ll help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions” at From the BACtrack S80 Personal Breathalyzer to the Moov Now fitness tracker, one fact is hard to ignore: Sensors are playing a soaring role in consumer products. The Google Self-driving Car would be unthinkable without advanced sensor technology. The most exciting sensor frontier may be in apparel. Sensors are already morphing themselves from gadgets into the freshest innovations in the threads we wear. The fashion of the future may hinge far more on what it does as well as how it looks, and chances are these wanted differences will be as invisible as they are powerful.
Risky Business: What You Think You Know
Fortune Cookies
In his book The Sense of Style, linguist Steven Pinker cites a perceptive quote misattributed to Mark Twain: “The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that aren’t so.” For fun revelations, scan Wikipedia’s “List of common misconceptions”, and you’ll learn that: “Not all sushi includes raw fish. The name sushi refers to any dish including vinegared rice; raw fish is a common inclusion, but not a necessary one.” And, “Fortune cookies, despite being associated with Chinese cuisine in the United States, were in fact invented and brought to the U.S. by the Japanese. The cookies are extremely rare in China, where they are seen as symbols of American cuisine.” That leads irresistibly to a quote from the film Charlie Chan at the Wax Museum: “Always prefer to utilize element of surprise, never to be victim.”