Another horrific gaffe in retail marketing – one which falls into the category of “grotesquely bad retail marketing decisions which will become a cautionary lesson in future marketing textbooks.” This spectacular gaffe involves a retailer of fashion-trendy and very colorful women’s athletic clothing, Fabletics – a company which started online in 2013 offering a subscription plan – somewhat controversial since the subscription charges were not always transparent, and branched out into brick and mortar locations. One of the founders is Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn, so there probably has been some advantages to a celebrity connection; easy to get that one-on-one with Oprah Winfrey, I presume. The company appears to this point to have been pretty savvy in a competitive field, marketing-wise, so all props to them. I’m not a customer of theirs in any case; the gym and the jogging track are not places where I go to show off my fashion sense. I’m old-school in that I prefer to work out in grey sweatpants and a baggy tee shirt.
…That I am my own independent publisher, with the Tiny Publishing Bidness, and only wasted a couple of months and a lot of postage, in 2007 or so, trying to get an agent interested in my first two novels. Because that was the way to break into traditional publishing; get an agent, who would present your work to the traditional publishing houses. Another book blogger at the time advised trying it for a year, and then going independent, as there were sufficient small companies doing publish-on-demand, some of them for rather reasonable fees. I did have an interested agent in New York, who was referred to me by another milblogger back then, and although the agent reluctantly declined to offer me his services, he was jolly complimentary and encouraging, and provided some good insights. One of the unspoken insights that I took away from this exchange, and drew from all the other letters saying “Thanks, but no thanks” from various literary agencies was that it was all a terribly insular world, the world of the established agencies and big publishers, all of whom seemed to be based in about half a square mile of real estate in New York.
Over recent years, I’ve notice that much political communication…ranging from formal statements by politicians down to off-the-cuff social media posts by individuals..has come to consist mostly of insulting one’s opponents. While there has always been a considerable amount of this, political insult has now become so prevalent as to drive out more rational forms of discourse. And while both/all sides do engage in the kind of behavior I’m discussing, it is much more predominant and extreme on the Left.
From a marketing point of view, this may seem a little odd: why would one want to insult one’s prospective customers–the people one is trying to persuade? I think the answer may be provided by Willi Munzenberg, who was Stalin’s master propagandist. Here’s what Munzenberg told Arthur Koestler, back when Koestler was still a Communist:
Don’t argue with them, Make them stink in the nose of the world. Make people curse and abominate them. Make them shudder with horror. That, Arturo, is propaganda!
And that seems to be the objective, recognized or not, of much of today’s ‘progressive’ speech. People are being intimidated from speaking their minds not only out of fear of practical consequences…loss of customers, loss of jobs…but out of fear of being publicly demonized as a Bad Person.
See Lead and Gold on Mediated Democracy and the Temptations of Leninism.
The Covid-19 situation has caused a lot of people to try online shopping for things they had previously bought in physical stores. Groceries, in particular, were something that most people preferred to buy in person, usually buying online only for specialty products that were hard or inconvenient to find locally. But with the lockdowns, a lot of people have started using the various online shopping platforms. These seem to fall into three primary categories:
–Systems such as Giant Peapod (recently rebranded as just Giant Food), which are operated by a grocery chain or an individual store. Some systems will deliver directly from a warehouse, bypassing their brick-and-mortar store locations. And sometimes an option is offered to preorder electronically, with in-store or curbside pickup at the store.
–Systems such as Instacart, which are more or less vendor-agnostic: these systems will allow you to place orders for any of several stores in your area, after which one of their shoppers will collect your order from the vendor’s regular store.
–Systems (Boxed is an example) which are have no store presence; they are only for online ordering and home delivery, but do the delivery from their own facilities…many kinds of products, obviously, are susceptible to this model only if shipped express with dry ice or similar packaging (expensive) or if the vendor has local facilities in the same area as the customer.
The relative success of these approaches will have great implications not only for the futures of the various merchants and system providers, but also for the commercial real-estate market. Systems that use the existing stores for fulfillment, such as Instacart, are beneficial to the survival and thriving of strip malls and other commercial space where grocery stores are typically located; systems focused on warehouse delivery are beneficial to the industrial property market but not so for retail properties.
Your thoughts and experiences?
Today marks the 99th anniversary of the first radio broadcast heard by a very large number of people: the Dempsey vs Carpentier boxing match. (Although a Carpentier was French, he had quite a following in the United States, owing to his distinguished record as a pilot in the First World War.)
Boxing promoter Tex Ricard had the idea that radio broadcasting might be a good way to increase the popularity of prizefighting…there had previously been some broadcasts of fights in local areas with limited audiences, but what was envisaged for this broadcast was a much larger audience over a much wider area. David Sarnoff of RCA, a strong advocate for the development of a broadcasting industry, was evidently a driving force behind this approach. A dedicated phone line from ringside to a transmitter in Hoboken was established, and radio amateurs throughout the Middle Atlantic states were encouraged to set up their receivers in bars, auditoriums, etc, for the benefit of those people (most of the population) who did not have their own radio receivers. The radio audience was estimated at 300,000 people.
The broadcast was not national in scope, owing to the limitations of the AM radio band, but it was a significant milestone in the the delocalization of information. Very soon, network broadcasting, enabled by long-distance dedicated phone links, would make possible programs with truly national audiences. The delocalization trend has continued, with television, intercontinental links via satellite and undersea cable, and the Internet, and has been a powerful driver of social, economic, and political changes.