Welcome to Ideas That Spread!

Ideas That Spread was started over 12 years ago by me Jon Cronin and since that time a LOT has changed.  I believe that businesses and the people that run them should strive for something bigger than just making a profit. We should strive to change the world for the better and give back as well as create products and services that revolutionize the way that humanity interacts with each other. My focus is not just on the people and companies that are doing great things from a corporate responsibility standpoint but also people that are making things that will "Change The World". 

Please note that anything I post on this site is my opinion and does not reflect the views of my employers or any of my clients.

Top Retail Trends For 2018

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Our shopping habits are changing. Retail is becoming even more personalized, efficient, automated, nuanced, intelligent, fresh, virtual and fast. While most changes are positive, others are disrupting our habits and creating transitional discomfort along the way. Below you will find ten exciting retail trends that I believe are important for anyone who does business in 2018.

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Global eCommerce sales are expected to increase to 4.5 Trillion by 2021. What the f is a trillion anyhow? How do we even wrap our head around 4.5 of them? It’s massive, increasingly borderless and is quickly becoming the norm for many businesses. Needless to say, it’s an exciting time to shop.

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Physical stores are getting smarter, digitized, more personal and overall more relevant by blending into the way we live our lives. Some of the big players like Apple and Nike have consistently lead the way by using data to predict where customers are and what they are more likely to buy. By providing extra services like the genius bar, product training sessions, sneaker bars, drive-through pick-up windows and even an app connected sock vending machine they have been able to stand out, but others are stepping up their game.

Rebecca Minkoff stores have smart mirrors in fitting rooms, allowing you to browse for other sizes or products that might complement whatever you’re trying on. Minority Report-ish smart walls suggest new styles when you walk by and you can even order champagne while you browse.

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Lowe’s ‘Lowe Vision: In-Store Navigation’ works in conjunction with Google’s Tango AR technology, it provides indoor mapping, allowing customers to search and quickly find items inside their massive often confusing stores.

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There is a lot happening out there in retail land and I’m hopeful and excited for the future of shopping.

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MOBILE MONEY MADNESS

Mobile is king and mobile payments are popping up everywhere. Fingerprints, facial recognition and easy one-click payment methods are simplifying the purchase process. Venmo, PayPal, Cash App, Apple Pay and mobile banking are becoming the norm. Tap and pay is taking over and it’s fun. It’s sooo easy and convenient that Starbucks had to reimagine how they serve customers who use their app, as the lines for pickup where becoming longer than the normal line. Growing pains for sure.

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NEED IT NOW

Price, Selection and Convenience are Amazon’s core retail values. The best price available, an endless selection of products and the convenience of ordering from anywhere, anytime and having those purchases delivered to you quickly. It’s obviously working, AMZN market cap is almost a trillion dollars. With their recent move into physical Amazon Go stores, their Whole Foods purchase and many new pick up spots for same-day delivery, Amazon is making sure THEY ARE the most convenient and others are following suit.

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NEVER ENDING NEW

Shopping is human and humans are complex. Our needs are constantly changing and we must ensure that our store environments are satisfying those needs. People expect new products, new experiences, new spaces and new ways of interacting. Then fairly quickly these new ways become the norm and we must innovate again and create new ways, on top of the “old new ways”, it’s never ending innovation…

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PERSISTENT PERSONALIZATION

People want things personalized, but 64 percent of shoppers don’t believe retailers understand who they are and how they shop. Knowing that personalization can lead to a 4.5 times higher cart rate & 5X higher per-visit spend, it’s imperative that retailers increase their ability to recommend the right products to go with our unique personal tastes. Even if it is a unicorn shower head.

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ROPO DOPE

With the rise of ROPO — Research Online, Purchase Offline, customers prefer to research products online and then buy them in-store. They can talk to someone, touch the product, get the right price, rub elbows with other shoppers and take the product home immediately. Pure shopping satisfaction all around.

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IMAGE OVER EVERYTHING

It goes the other direction as well. Take a picture of something in a store, upload it to eBay and see if that product is cheaper online and buy it. Image search and product recognition tools are everywhere and it’s important to give people the option to search and shop by images. Make sure that you have great photos of your store, your products and everything in between, otherwise someones bad photos will represent your brand. 
Pinterest’s Shop the Look feature takes this a step further. You see an image of a style you like, you find details about clothing directly within the Pinterest app and then you seamlessly purchase. Boom.

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V IS FOR VIDEO

In addition to great imagery, your product videos also need to be great. They should connect to the lifestyle of your customer and answer key questions about how the product looks, works, and make their lives easier. Video is one of the best tools to deliver this critical information. When people can’t feel and touch the product, a video can ease their concerns and help close the deal. Whatever you spend on video at the moment it’s not enough. True investment is needed.

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HEART HEALTH

Brands that stand for something tend to do better both financially and socially. People want to contribute to the greater good and offering a way to give back to the community is not only a nice thing to do, it’s now expected.

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LOYALTY > LOYALTY > LOYALTY

They say that 80% of your sales come from only 20% of your customers and keeping your base loyal is what keeps your business stable. 57% of people join to save money and 38% join to receive rewards. Points, rewards, miles, coupons, bonuses, deals and everything in between — having a sustained loyalty program increases the average customer spend by 67%.

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VOICE COMMANDING COMMERCE

Voice Commerce is picking up steam with smart speaker owners. 70 percent have used a voice assistant “at least” once in something shopping-related. Most of the time it’s “Where’s my order?” but it’s slowly becoming an important user interface to the shopping experience. We have a long way to go, but it’s important to get in early as it will be ubiquitous before we know it.

“Getting higi with it” - How Health Retail Is Getting Up Close and Personalized

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Higi (rhymes with “jiggy”) believes that being healthy should be fun, simple and rewarding. As we all debate health data sharing, they are quietly transforming pharmacies and health retail experiences by helping people play an active role in their personal health. Higi helps you to track health and lifestyle data from higi health stations and integrates with fitness trackers like Garmin and Fitbit, and MapMyFitness. 

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At Sam’s Club, higi offers free self-service health screenings to customers at over 600 locations with pharmacies. People can self-check their blood pressure, pulse, weight and body mass index using integrated health devices, activity trackers and apps. The information is stored on a secure online platform peoples vitals are gamified, and converted to a single “HigiScore,” which represents a user’s overall wellness. 

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At Wegmans people can share their data with the pharmacy team through an integration with the McKesson Clinical Programs Solution (CPS) platform. The Biometric data collected enables pharmacists to connecting the dots and react in real time to each consumer’s health concerns.

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While higi is doing exciting things one of the more interesting trends is the “FaceTime” doctor diagnosis also called telemedicine. Walgreens has partnered with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital to develop private rooms with telemedicine kiosks inside stores. Patients are provided with instant diagnosis services as well as treatment for non-life threatening illnesses and injuries through virtual access to board-certified Weill Cornell Medicine emergency medicine physicians via a video-conference connection.

2017 Innovation Trends

  Technology and consumer trends are evolving so quickly, it’s difficult to see what’s next. Here’s a quick 2017 trend report summary to help you navigate the vast sea of change.   Your smartphone battery life is about to double which will help us when we ride 15,000 miles on the world’s longest bike trail in Canada, or when we take a private trip to the the moon with Moon Express, or when we watch the total solar eclipse pass over the US in August - all while checking Instagram Live to see what President Trump is broadcasting from the oval office. Needless to say, 2017 is going to be a wild ride. Get ready people! 

Technology and consumer trends are evolving so quickly, it’s difficult to see what’s next. Here’s a quick 2017 trend report summary to help you navigate the vast sea of change.

Your smartphone battery life is about to double which will help us when we ride 15,000 miles on the world’s longest bike trail in Canada, or when we take a private trip to the the moon with Moon Express, or when we watch the total solar eclipse pass over the US in August - all while checking Instagram Live to see what President Trump is broadcasting from the oval office. Needless to say, 2017 is going to be a wild ride. Get ready people! 

  AR / VR  is quickly becoming mainstream and the ability to layer an augmented virtual experience over a real experience is the future. We will begin to see Pokemon GO like mobile apps in all aspects of our lives. Office, retail, school and public spaces will all allow us to dive deeper into what goes on around us. Imagine a gamified world where we compete against fellow students and coworkers all while learning and experiencing a deeper connection to our environment.   Top 20 AR Apps  

AR / VR is quickly becoming mainstream and the ability to layer an augmented virtual experience over a real experience is the future. We will begin to see Pokemon GO like mobile apps in all aspects of our lives. Office, retail, school and public spaces will all allow us to dive deeper into what goes on around us. Imagine a gamified world where we compete against fellow students and coworkers all while learning and experiencing a deeper connection to our environment.  Top 20 AR Apps 

 Marketers must tell stories across all retail touch points and all  c  ontent m  ust s  ell by being connected to a direct path to purchase. Retail brands will immerse  potential customers into their ecosystem of social content, influencers, product experts, loyalty tools, AI bots and REAL customer service people.  The ability to buy at any point online and/or walk out of the store frictionless like Amazon Go will transform retail forever.  Stores will feel more like home, inviting people to relax, touch and talk to knowledgeable staff all while incorporating their mobile device in a sophisticated but simple customer experience. The future of retail is the future of technology. 

Marketers must tell stories across all retail touch points and all content must sell by being connected to a direct path to purchase. Retail brands will immerse potential customers into their ecosystem of social content, influencers, product experts, loyalty tools, AI bots and REAL customer service people.  The ability to buy at any point online and/or walk out of the store frictionless like Amazon Go will transform retail forever.  Stores will feel more like home, inviting people to relax, touch and talk to knowledgeable staff all while incorporating their mobile device in a sophisticated but simple customer experience. The future of retail is the future of technology. 

 Did you know the world’s population is is almost 7.5 billion and 2.5 of them are on social media? It’s no wonder brands have spent almost 10.9 billion dollars trying to connect with them there. It’s where we all live and social is evolving quickly with each new update of Instagram and Snapchat.  Live Video  is here and it’s growing more each day. Youtube Live, Instagram Live, Facebook Live, Periscope Pro are front and center and if you don’t have a Live strategy yet you are missing the boat. It’s no longer just pretty pictures, clever copy and beautiful produced video, it’s  Live  and it’s now. As brands are now publishers, they also need to be  Live  broadcasters.  

Did you know the world’s population is is almost 7.5 billion and 2.5 of them are on social media? It’s no wonder brands have spent almost 10.9 billion dollars trying to connect with them there. It’s where we all live and social is evolving quickly with each new update of Instagram and Snapchat. Live Video is here and it’s growing more each day. Youtube Live, Instagram Live, Facebook Live, Periscope Pro are front and center and if you don’t have a Live strategy yet you are missing the boat. It’s no longer just pretty pictures, clever copy and beautiful produced video, it’s Live and it’s now. As brands are now publishers, they also need to be Live broadcasters.  

  Messaging Apps  are the holy grail of that one on one connection that marketers salivate for. Getting to the most personal of spaces is a tricky business and Facebook, Apple, WeChat and many others   are sending in the bots to take on this challenge. The bots are coming, the bots are coming, everyone open up your Messaging App of choice and let them in because you know, robots are so personal.   

Messaging Apps are the holy grail of that one on one connection that marketers salivate for. Getting to the most personal of spaces is a tricky business and Facebook, Apple, WeChat and many others are sending in the bots to take on this challenge. The bots are coming, the bots are coming, everyone open up your Messaging App of choice and let them in because you know, robots are so personal.   

  Internet of Things:  50 billion “Things” will be on the Internet  by 2020 . If you have walked into a Best Buy lately you will see that the first section is all IoT related. Connected devices, Wearables, Amazon Echo and Dash buttons, Google Home, Apple Watches, Fitbits, lightbulbs, speakers, locks, security camera’s, refrigerators, toasters, toothbrushes… You name it and its going to be connected to the Internet of Things. If you make anything moving forward it must connect to the IoT or be left behind. 

Internet of Things: 50 billion “Things” will be on the Internet by 2020. If you have walked into a Best Buy lately you will see that the first section is all IoT related. Connected devices, Wearables, Amazon Echo and Dash buttons, Google Home, Apple Watches, Fitbits, lightbulbs, speakers, locks, security camera’s, refrigerators, toasters, toothbrushes… You name it and its going to be connected to the Internet of Things. If you make anything moving forward it must connect to the IoT or be left behind. 

  Transformative Spaces -  Interactive walls and immersive digital experiences lead by technology are becoming almost expected in the experiential world. Interactive wallpaper, 3D art wall paintings that move, 3D retail touchscreen walls, touch screen kitchens, talking walls, musical walls, sports walls - It's all about transforming spaces with technology and interactivity baby.  http://www.trendhunter.com/slideshow/interactive-walls

Transformative Spaces - Interactive walls and immersive digital experiences lead by technology are becoming almost expected in the experiential world. Interactive wallpaper, 3D art wall paintings that move, 3D retail touchscreen walls, touch screen kitchens, talking walls, musical walls, sports walls - It's all about transforming spaces with technology and interactivity baby. http://www.trendhunter.com/slideshow/interactive-walls

 I spent my Thanksgiving yelling over my nephew and son trying to control Alexa. They wanted her/it to play “My House” at volume level 6 and I wanted “Holiday Music” at level 3. It was fun and annoying at the same time and much like yelling at my Xbox for the past three years, only this time she/it talked back to me. My sister says she uses it to order things all the time from Amazon and now I’m stuffing stockings this year with Google Home and Amazon Echo's, including one for myself. Even though we have Siri with us at all time, we love the idea of yelling across the room to a AI speaker. Much like bots, voice activated AI is the future. “Computer, set a course for the future...”      Happy Holidays Everyone!

I spent my Thanksgiving yelling over my nephew and son trying to control Alexa. They wanted her/it to play “My House” at volume level 6 and I wanted “Holiday Music” at level 3. It was fun and annoying at the same time and much like yelling at my Xbox for the past three years, only this time she/it talked back to me. My sister says she uses it to order things all the time from Amazon and now I’m stuffing stockings this year with Google Home and Amazon Echo's, including one for myself. Even though we have Siri with us at all time, we love the idea of yelling across the room to a AI speaker. Much like bots, voice activated AI is the future. “Computer, set a course for the future...” 

 

Happy Holidays Everyone!

What a time...

To be alive...

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I headed to SF last week to enjoy the wine country and spend time with my best friends and instead I landed to a new reality and got pulled into some real shit. My best friend works for mayors office and so I spent the week helping him shape a community based plan of social impact and resolve for the city in the midsts of demonstrations and Trump effigy burning. It was eye opening and it got me thinking about changes in our society, new expectations, how our behaviors should change and what this means for people, marketers and brands. Brand missions must now stand for issues that connect us to each other and the communities we live in. We must go beyond the wedge issues that divide us and focus on what makes us all interconnected. Brands have focused a lot on individual issues like self-esteem, empowerment and stereotypes - which are all amazing issues and shouldn’t be neglected, but what we need right now as a country are more community based programs that brands can help lead. Connecting us to opinions outside of our bubble and getting people to stand together is critical. It’s up to us as marketers to ensure that our brands are prepared to get involved with helping people and communities connect with each other in a productive not destructive two-way conversation. True dialogue is needed and it’s up to all of us to foster that dialogue in the face of a new political reality. 

Purpose Driven Mission

I had the pleasure of attending the Fast Company Innovation Festival in NYC and one of my favorite panels was "Can Dolls and Watches Save The World? A Study in Purposeful Brand Transformations." hosted by Weber Shandwick's Social Impact Team.
The discussion was centered around Lisa McKnight, SVP at Mattel/Barbie, Jaques Panis, President at Shinola and Paul Massey EVP, Global Lead of Social Impact at Weber and the question I kept asking myself was:

Is it mandatory to now structure your business to center around your Social Impact Mission?

The answer that kept coming back from the panel was YES. The future of business is a Purpose Driven Mission that makes an impact. Investors are seeking Purposeful Brands, Millennials are looking to work for Purpose Driven Brands, and companies are all transforming their entire operating structure to fulfill their Purpose Driven Mission. It doesn't take much more convincing that a all brands need to transform. 

Here are 5 tips for Communicating Purpose that were shared: 

  1. Be Bold - Communications need to elevate a strong heart-pulsing vision of purpose
  2. Be Authentic - The story can’t be invented. It has to be in the DNA of the company. 
  3. Be Creative - the best work captures imaginations and shows what’s possible when brands contribute to a better world
  4. Be Transparent - The most powerful stories of purpose are often about the unexpected lessons learned along the way
  5. Be Sustained - Delivering on a core purpose is a life-long ambition. Communications need to deliver for the long term

How Grover Inspired My Career!

The truth is that every few years I get "The Itch."  You know the one. "The Itch" that makes you question where you are, where is your career going and where to go next? The one that motivates you to make a big move—usually "The Itch" pushed me into a new role, new industry, new company and sometimes even a new city.

Last year "The Itch" was stronger than ever. After 19 years of working at either an agency or brand, I needed time to figure out who I was professionally outside of an organization. So, after five great years, I ended my full-time relationship with my employer and started my marketing consultancy.

At the time, I was nervous about paying for health insurance, chasing checks and getting new business, not to mention, networking full time and figuring out how to be independently motivated. Fear of the unknown! Not knowing what's around the corner is both scary and exhilarating at the same time.

It's no wonder one of my favorite books as a kid was "The Monster at the End of This Book: Starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover." That's right Grover! Grover is terrified that there is a monster at the end of the book. He begs you not to finish the book to avoid meeting the scary monster. He constructs obstacles to keep you from turning the page, but nothing works as you turn the page with ease, smashing each obstacle. Finally, at the end of the book, we learn that the monster is none other than Grover himself!

In fact, the unknown has been what has motivated me throughout my life, not knowing what is at the end of the book has forced me to turn the page and find out. And what I found over the past few months, after starting my own consultancy, has been incredible.

Being able to focus on the things that are most important to me— family, friends and personal relationships. I mean there is nothing better than being able to chaperon my son Miles field trip or picking him up from school instead of hiring a full-time babysitter. Not to mention, time to understand what I'm passionate about, time to network and time to further master this shifting industry landscape. Being fully present and connecting with every new opportunity at any moment is life changing. Having the time to reconnect with old and new friends, while facing the fear of the unknown with quiet strength and an open mind is the best thing I could have ever done for myself. It's not easy, but it is inspiring.

So for anyone who is on the fence and afraid to turn the page and start your own thing, remember that the monster at the end of the book is none other than your lovable, furry old pal Grover!