Forever Relevant – Kudos to the Fashion Industry

Forever Relevant: Yvon Chouinard’s mantra which I posted back in 2019 (below), especially when I learned this morning, he and his family transfered the ownership of the company he founded, Patagonia, to a specially designed trust and a nonprofit organization where the company’s annual profits will be used for environmental initiatives.   

Posted on April 19, 2019

Blink:

I take pleasure in reviewing innovative projects to save our vulnerable planet. One industry that is rising to the challenge is the fashion industry.

Read On:

“Business is a combination of human energy and money and to me that equals power. I would go so far as to say that business is the most powerful force in society today, and it is a force that ought to be harnessed to affect social change to improve the quality of life in those societies around the world where the basic needs are not being met.”                                                                                                                                                               – Ben Cohen

Detailed below are some leading examples of sustainably focused companies in the fashion industry:

  • Patagonia – The company has always been a socially responsible company. Their latest mission statement mandated by Yvon Chouinard, their 80-year-old founder: “Patagonia is in business to save the planet.”Yvon wants to build a sense of urgency inside and outside the company since he believes we are not just witnessing climate change; we are experiencing a climate crisis. Three pillars Patagonia believes are critical to achieve their mission are agriculture, politics and protected lands. More specifically, one major initiative that piques my interest is regenerative agriculture, a long-time priority for their supply chain. Currently, they are working with small cotton farmers in India to create jobs to control pests with traps as opposed to utilizing chemicals, as well as weed and harvest cotton by hand. Note: Studies indicate that regenerative agriculture captures more carbon than we’re emitting. Cotton is a crop that captures carbon.
  • Everlane – Noteworthy, the clothing brand founded in 2011 waited six years before introducing its brand of jeans, holding out for a sustainably responsible manufacturer that recycled 98% of the water it utilized. Their line of “clean silk” shirts are made in an energy-efficient factory using chemical-free dyes. Throughout their supply chain they conduct ongoing audits to reduce waste, plus the use of plastics ranging from their employee kitchen (e.g., straws) to buttons from a foreign supplier. Their founder and CEO is concerned how the world is choking on plastics and wants to be a leading advocate for its eradication.  
  • Synflux – A Japanese start-up research collective has developed machine learning algorithms (a.k.a. AI) enabling fashion clients to customize the shape, fabric and color of their garments. Consequently, their technology will reduce fabric waste by an estimated 15 percent.

Digital Groupthink

Blink:                                                  

I continue to study the growth of influence marketing. There are two type of influencers, macro (celebrities with massive, millions of followers) and micro (everyday consumers who engage on a regular basis with significant social media followings). I am beginning to conclude influence marketing is a digital form of groupthink.

Read On:

This much I do know, digital groupthink is flourishing in the fashion industry. The most recent brand success story I read about is Djerf Avenue, launched in Sweden in 2019. Its founder Matilda Djerf, enjoys sizable social media metrics on her personal accounts – 2.6 million on Instagram and a million on TikTok. Matilda insists she is making a statement by building more than a fashion brand, but a community advocating her Gen Z/European lifestyle known as Scandi Cool. Her loyal/devoted followers are identified as Djerf Angels. Her business metrics are impressive too! 2022 projected sales revenue of $22 million, up from $8 million in 2021.

Do you follow any social media influencers or march to the beat of your own drum?


 

The Mediocrity Movement?

Blink:

As an advocate of influence marketing, I understand the value of social media. However, my personal usage is far below the worldwide average (source: Statista) of 147 minutes per day (2 hours, 27 minutes). My Tik Tok usage is zero, but I am on top of what is trending #quietquitting.

Read On:

TikTok, the Chinese-owned video app with over 1 billion monthly active users, continually has been scrutinized over its data practices. As a result, my usage is zero because I refuse to download the social platform on my smartphone. The latest eye opener for me is privacy research revealed the web browser used within the app was built in functionality to track every online keystroke made by its users. In addition to my concern about TikTok’s utilization of data, from what I have read, a majority of the content I would find juvenile/irrelevant, plus numerous critics of the app have expressed it is a time-consuming black hole.

What is #quietquitting? A trending phrase first posted on TikTok back in July which went viral gaining millions of views. People were voicing a concern for optimizing their work-life balance, avoid burnout (a.k.a. rise & grind) and get more fulfillment outside of the office. Leading career coaches believe the pandemic exacerbated the stress and overload of work people perform above and beyond their job description. In addition, people wanted to spend more time with family, friends and their hobbies thanks to experiencing working remotely; versus outright quitting their jobs, #quietquitting TikTokers posted about shutting their computers off at 5 PM, only doing the assigned tasks they were paid for versus working more hours than required. Accordingly, they were leaving the office to enhance their personal lives. Gallup workplace and well-being research revealed a large group of respondents felt they were not engaged – they show up for work, do the bare minimum and not much else. Note: 54% of the respondents in this category were born after 1989.

My take. Work-life balance is paramount, but is best achieved via prioritizing one’s time management both in and out of the office. #quietquitting followers, thanks to a leading social platform are just being vocal venting their employment frustrations, plus validating why they are not going the extra mile for themselves or the organization that signs their paychecks. Are we on the cusp of a mediocrity labor movement?

Pre-social media, I actually experienced #quietquitting decades ago when I was in Corporate America. In every organization I worked there was a subset of people who mastered performing at a mediocre level as they watched the clock strike 5PM. I used to describe these workers as people who showed up daily just so they could collect their paychecks. Maybe I should sign up for TikTok and post a new hashtag to see if it goes viral:

#Justshowup

Words

Blink:

I am a future writer wannabe. To hone my skills I blog, plus read a lot to improve my vocabulary and review different writing styles. I would like to share some new words I have recently learned, plus some over-used, popular business lingo.  

Read On:

  • Imbroglio – An extremely confused, complicated or embarrassing situation. Sound all too familiar? To me sometimes a byproduct of overprocessing. Makes me think of my favorite Confucius quote: “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
  • Granular View – Business lingo, for detailed-orientated data points. My apologies, isn’t that the overall objective of conducting quantitative research to compile  data/facts to make informed decisions. Consequently, to me it is a given all quantitative research is granular. 
  • Kairos – An ancient Greek word meaning the right, critical or opportune moment.
  • Nimbyism – The behavior of someone who does not want something to be built or done near where they live, although it does need to be built or done somewhere.
  • Pivot – Primarily a business term that became extremely popular during the pandemic referring to companies changing direction as in some aspect of their core products or services to better meet consumer demand.

A word wealth exercise follows: The imbroglio caused by COVID-19 forced many businesses across all sectors to pivot. Business leaders were challenged by a kairotic event to create a sense of urgency with their teams to better understand with the aid of coronavirus economic stimulus packages, how best to survive the pandemic by analyzing available market data to a granular view. Unfortunately, globally in some municipalities, funds directed for economic stimulus fueled nimbyism among special interest groups to place the funding of environmental/climate related projects on hold.

Have you learned any new words recently?

Food Buzz du Jour

Blink:

Upcycled Foods!

Read On:

For the last couple years, plant-based foods have dominated innovation in the food industry. Food futurists touted a shift toward plant foods would go a long way in promoting human health and the health of our planet. Their robust sales projections were primarily driven by two factors:

  • The continued global growth of the vegetarian, vegan and flexitarian consumer segments has driven awareness regarding the health benefits offered by a plant-based diet. Numerous nutrition research studies examining plant-based eating patterns revealed a reduction in the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
  • Environmentalists publicized the current global food system contributes 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions mainly attributable to current food consumption which is heavily resource-intensive, specifically the enormous environmental burden that goes along with animal agriculture. animal-based foods. In addition to driving greenhouse emissions, industrial animal agriculture, places an enormous strain on our planet’s resources (land, water, forests, and biodiversity).

Consequently, food companies’ innovation has been geared towards producing a plethora of plant-based products ranging from meat alternatives, dairy products (e.g., milk alternatives, ice cream, etc.) and even sushi. In order to facilitate a shift towards a plant-based food system, with the aim of meeting global climate goals, several things need to happen. For starters, new sustainable agricultural centric policies/practices will need to be implemented, as well as redirecting financial incentives to convert the quantity of land currently used for animal feed and animal production into land utilized to cultivate plant protein crops. Last of all, category leaders will need to broadcast the features and benefits of plant-based foods to consumers to drive consumption.

Sustainability continues to grow and evolve into a leading consumer criterion for food decisions. Consumer awareness regarding the negative impact of food waste on our planet has risen dramatically in the past two years – approximately 870 million people are under nourished, 2.5 billion tons of produce goes uneaten annually and it is estimated food waste contributes to 8-10% of global greenhouse emissions. Thanks to food waste’s environmental impact a new wave of innovation has emerged; upcycled foods. Food processors are taking the byproducts of manufacturing finished products, waste normally headed for landfills and converting them into functional/nutritional finished products. A primary example would be the manufacturing of fruit juices. Leftover waste which includes pulp, peels, stems, seeds, dietary fiber, etc. are being transformed into snack items. The recycling of spent grain (e.g., barley), a byproduct of the brewing industry has become an innovative technique, a process made popular by upcycled market leaders EverGrain and ReGrained. They have transformed spent grain into protein bars, beverages, baking mixes, flour, pizza crusts and pasta.  

To learn more, click on this link to the Upcycled Foods Association.

Opinions welcomed!  

The Library Lions

Blink:

Patience and Fortitude, the pair of world-renowned, imposing marble lions situated in front of the majestic Beaux-Arts library building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan. They have captured the admiration of New Yorkers and visitors from all over the world since the library was dedicated back in 1911.

Read On:

I thought about the lions this morning when I went to see my physical therapist and absolutely fumbled my attempt at asking her in French, about her weekend. For the record the language barrier I experience here in Cannes has been awkward. Consequently, I decided to treat myself to French lessons to build on the few phrases I have mastered. Trust me my food French, ordering at a restaurant, boulangerie, poissonnerie, etc. is adequate. I have developed some everyday phrases when people ask me how I am. One of my favorite sayings is “Je suis content.” I have even rehearsed 10 reasons in response to the next question people always ask “Pourquoi?” Then I am lost. End of conversation.

This morning I was way off my game after two weeks of intensive lessons. My therapist knew I had enrolled in a language school and sensed I was frustrated. She told me to be patient and stick with it, French is a complicated language. It is going to take more than two weeks of lessons. Suddenly I thought about a guiding principle I value, especially in my business life Patience and Fortitude, a topic I posted about in the past.

My therapist is bi-lingual and has been helping me with my conversational French. She also taught me to get rid of my standard reply when someone asks how am I? “Je suis content!” She told me a typical French male would never say they are content. She advised me French people like to complain.

Slow down and remember: Patience and Fortitude!

A Touch of Humanity

Blink:

Candidly. I am getting drained staying informed about our toxic turvy world. The war in Ukraine, U.S. gun violence, the spike in hate crimes, the prolonged global pandemic. What is going on with humanity? Being a pragmatist, on a micro level, I still remain positive especially after this past Thursday.  

Read On:

My mother passed away in April at 102-years and 3-months old. It was her dream to move on in the south of France and have her ashes scattered in the shimmering Mediterranean Sea. Last Thursday was a special day as I fulfilled her wish.

To make it happen, I made arrangements with the Les Suaveteurs (Lifeguards) en Mer in Cannes. I identified a captain who would take me out during his lunch hour to scatter my mother’s ashes. He needed a crew of four, thus went online for volunteers. Six people signed up. Ironically the Mediterranean was not shimmering last Thursday. It was pouring rain. The captain navigated the rescue boat to a location I had designated. When we arrived at the spot, the rain stopped and we conducted a brief ceremony. On the way back to the port, I asked those volunteers who spoke Enlglish why they signed up. Their reply: they enjoy helping people, especially someone who wanted to conduct a special ceremony. A truly amazing experience I shared with seven strangers further validating for me, despite what is going on in this world, there is still a bright side to humanity.

Consumer Buckets

Blink:

I began my marketing journey as a B2C marketer, Consequently, in addition to staying abreast of state-of-the-art digital targeting trends (a.k.a. psychographic profiling), I am always researching the latest advancement as it relates to consumer targeting. Two consumer groups smart marketers currently covet – older people and blacks.

Read On:

When targeting consumers, smart marketers whether they advocate conventional targeting or advanced targeting, always start the process by researching/identifying their potential targets’ data points.

  • Older adults – U.S. households headed by people 55 or older hold $92.3 trillion or 69 percent of the country’s total wealth. Today older people are wealthier than previous generations, a statistic which will continue to increase since data scientists project by 2060, 95 million people (23 percent of the population) will be 65 or older, up from 52 million in 2018 (16 percent of the population). Marketers have learned to focus on the lifestyle of older buyers, developing products and services that meet their specific needs without broadcasting old age or senior citizen.
  • Segmented Black Consumers – Black consumers are a growing economic bloc; an estimated $910 billion in consumption in 2019 to $1.7 trillion by 2030 equivalent to the projected GDP of Mexico. Consumer research conducted by McKinsey & Company revealed a high percentage of Black Americans believe they do not receive fair or equitable treatment as consumers, thus are dissatisfied with the products and services that meet their needs, as well as supporting their financial health and security. McKinsey and Company’s research identified seven distinct segments primarily based on household income and geographic location (e.g., communities with lack of retail accessibility known as product deserts, growth communities with wealth and social mobility, etc.). Outside of low-income Black Americans living on a tight budget, on the whole Black consumers seek quality and brand credibility over price attributed to the fact they are highly engaged researchers and influencers. To me, McKinsey’s in-depth, detailed Black consumer research across a wide scope of business sectors (food, auto, apparel, consumer technology, banking, insurance, beauty, health & wellness); further validated when it comes to targeting Black consumer buckets today, one size does not fit all. This much I do know, it would behoove smart marketers to develop all-encompassing, credible content free from biases and fluent to Black American communities.  

Opinions welcomed!

Work Place Disruption – What’s New

Blink:

As vaccination rates rise and COVID-19 hopefully begins to taper off, companies are currently being challenged to reopen their offices. How is it going? Time for an update.

Read On:

For starters, a significant byproduct of the pandemic was 47 million Americans hastily quit their jobs. This sudden shift of jobs was labeled the “Great Resignation.” A nationwide Harris Poll survey conducted at the end of March with USA Today revealed a high level of dissatisfaction among workers and employers.  By the numbers:

  • One in five workers in the past two years who quit their jobs and switched during the “Great Resignation” regret their move and are already looking for a new job – 30% were surprised about what their new jobs entailed, 24% indicated they missed the culture of their previous job while another 24% admitted they failed to weigh the pros and cons before making a shift.
  • Only 26% like their jobs enough to stay.
  • Some employers in numerous human resource surveys have acknowledged they were too quick to hire, thus find the right fit for each job resulting in burnout for new employees failing to adapt and fulfill their new job responsibilities. Note: A Gallup survey indicated that only 12% of employees felt they were prepared for the onboarding process of their new job.

Secondly, a major issue now surfacing in the workplace is the inflated costs associated with the daily routine of R.T.O. (return to office). At the beginning of April, consumer prices were 8.5 percent higher than they were the previous year – overall the fastest 12-month inflation rate since 1981. Two areas workers are feeling the pinch were rising gasoline prices for commuters and “lunchflation” – increased food prices (sandwiches and salads) further compounded by the increased cost of iced lattes or the average morning cup of coffee.

Finally, the future of flexible workplace models is still in flux. McKinsey & Company conducted a survey and fortified hybrid work is popular among a majority of respondents – more than four out of five preferred retaining hybrid work going forward, plus two out of three employees who preferred hybrid work would seek other opportunities if asked to return to fully on-site. Employers still need to work out the dynamics of their hybrid work place models to offer the flexibility of enhancing work-life balance while providing a sense of inclusion – the rising demand employees covet for a sense of belonging and being appreciated.

Opinions Welcomed!

Miner or Farmer?

Blink:

I am an early adapter of LinkedIn. As I move in on almost two decades of being active on the networking and career development platform, I have noticed a change, diluted engagement and more self-promotion, thus I have begun re-evaluating my future level of participation/time commitment. My assessment?

Read On:

When I first joined LinkedIn, given I was self-employed, I thought it would be a great way to expand my business network band width beyond what I had already cultivated via attending conferences, speaking engagements and volunteering in my industry’s association. Being a networking aficionado, I quickly validated my hypothesis there are two types of networkers: strip miners (takers, what’s in it for me) and farmers (givers, who nurture their relationships by sharing information). The strip miners just wanted to collect LinkedIn connections without truly understanding the individual they were connecting with. On the other hand, farmers usually participated in discussion groups to engage with other professionals with similar backgrounds.

Initially I enjoyed my engagement with other LI members via comments, but quickly learned to be more select from a time management perspective. I found engagement usually in select discussion groups was a productive way to aggregate information. In addition, another way was joining discussion groups with a news feed. Before making a connection, I scheduled introductory/exploratory phone calls which was a great way to exchange mutual interests. The net result was I connected with some excellent people and achieved my objective of expanding my business network band width.

For me in the early 2010s, LI engagement morphed. First the platform eliminated news feeds so I no longer was able to aggregate information from my discussion groups. Then LinkedIn followed Facebook and added the Like button. Hitting the Like button might be good for metrics, but to me engagement became diluted. It made it too easy for people since they no longer had to take timeout to post a written comment.

Now I am noticing another change. Posts have become more personal as in people sharing TMI (e.g., spouses battling health issues like dementia), self-promotion about switching jobs or getting promoted, attending conferences, etc., etc., etc. There has been a significant increase in job recruitment which makes sense given LinkedIn was originally launched as a professional networking platform for finding a job, developing the professional relationships needed to succeed in one’s career. 

Frankly, what is now missing for me is aggregating relevant information for my business when I cruise LinkedIn and the potential for meaningful engagement with existing or potentially new connections. Candidly all the c’est moi self-promotion are broadcasts by miners. People just wanting to collect LinkedIn connections.

Opinions Welcome!