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I remember when virtual reality tried to go mainstream in the mid-80s, big, heavy headsets and poor computer graphics let you walk around a world that looked like a big pixel. It was interesting but even the teenage me was unimpressed. Jump forward to now and virtual reality has become cheap and nimble.
Enter Google Cardboard. For about $15 you can have a virtual reality headset sent to you. Slide your smartphone in, put your headphones on and you’re off.
Sure there are more expensive headsets from Samsung or Facebook, but why bother? The experience on Google Cardboard is excellent enough to make you lose your balance or walk into chairs.
The New York Times sent its subscribers a free headset a while back and has been putting excellent content on its VR app: NYT VR. For now it’s just a cool toy, but I can see how the marriage of cheap headsets, smartphones, and apps, will lead to new ways to communicate, learn, get the news, etc.
Merriam-Webster has released its list of new words being added to the 2012 update of Merriam Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary. This years list includes 25 new words and their exact definition as defined by Webster. From “brain cramp,” “e-reader,” and “underwater” to “f-bomb” and “sexting,” the list provides a revealing look at American culture.
Who determines which words make the cut? Merriam-webster.com says their editors monitor the changing language and add new terms to the dictionary once those words come into widespread use across a variety of publications. Influences range from the global financial crisis to technologies to Oprah Winfrey and her signature phrase “aha moment” (a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension).
Curious as to what made the list in 2011? Here’s a nice recap:
At W5, we’ve been thinking a lot about mobile phones lately. It’s a fascinating topic for research. The depth of the emotional and physical relationship between the user and the device is sometimes staggering. It makes me think of my own technophilia and wonder if the phantom rings and vibrations I feel are just feelings of love unrequited.
We love our phones, but do they love us back? The relationship tends to be one-sided. There is shockingly little research on the emotional insides of our mobile phones. We never ask “how are you feeling?” and thus we never know.
Attention males ages 18-35, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but according to Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic, you are not the coveted demographic in the tech industry anymore.
According to, “Sorry, Young Man, You’re Not the Most Important Demographic in Tech” by Alexis Madrigal, women are purchasing more tech products than men. Women take the lead in the following tech purchase categories: Internet usage (17 percent higher usage than men per month); mobile phone voice usage; mobile phone based location services; text messaging; GPS devices; and even Skype. According to Time Magazine, in 2007, women accounted for 45% of consumer electronics purchases, 58% of online retail purchases, and 44% of the NFL fanbase. This shows that women are no longer yielding to the stereotypes that limit their purchasing power to clothes, shoes, and washing machines, while the men purchase the fast cars, sleek televisions, cool phones, and game consoles. Women want it all, and they are willing to purchase it now.
Companies are catching on to that fact. It is not enough to advertise a sleek model on the hood of a fast car. Now car companies are showing women behind the driver’s seat accomplishing their goals. According to the article, “Marketing to Women: Surprising Stats Show Purchasing Power & Influence” by Steve Parker Jr., women account for purchase more than half of new cars and influence at least 80% of vehicle purchases and spend 200 billion on new cars and mechanical services per year. The purchasing power of women is evident in the popular Honda Commercial below, where a woman who has just been proposed to immediately takes a moment to think, and then says that she has stuff to do before getting married.
The bottom line is that like many other companies in the market, the tech industry is realizing that to achieve success they have to cater more to female customers.
So, I’m sorry guys, you’re just not as special in the tech industry anymore.
Millennials present marketing, advertising, and market research professionals with a unique challenge. A distinct combination of social, cultural, and environmental influences have formed a generation of consumers with very specific needs and touch points.
A force of approximately 80-90 million strong in the US, with an estimated $200 billion in purchasing power, Millennials are not an audience to be taken lightly. Understanding Millennial consumers’ mindsets, values, and purchase patterns and behaviors through creative and innovative Millennial-specific market research methodologies is essential to the success of most mainstream brands and products.
Our white paper, W5 on Millennials, outlines key characteristics which affect their attitudes toward and interaction with products and the marketing surrounding them, as well as how W5 approaches gaining a true understanding of how to effectively communicate and connect with them. Here is a snapshot of this force by the numbers:
24% of Millennials say that ‘Technology use’ is what most makes their generation unique, the #1 answer (Pew Research 2010)
50 median number of text messages teenagers send every day (Pew Research 2010)
48% of Millennials who say word-of-mouth influences their product purchases more than TV ads. Only 17% said a TV ad prompted them to buy (Intrepid Study 2010)
47% of 16-to-24-year-olds are employed, the smallest share since government started recording data in 1948 (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2011)
46% of Millennials say they’ve had vigorous exercise in the past 24 hours
45% of Millennials highly associate their lives with simplicity, compared to 51% of Gen X and 58% of Boomers
44% of Millennials say that marriage is becoming obsolete, compared to 35% of Boomers who feel the same way (Pew Study 2010)
43% of 18-24 year-olds say that texting is just as meaningful as an actual conversation with someone over the phone (eMarketer 2010)
42% of teens say the primary reason they have a cell phone is for texting. Safety was second at 35% (Nielsen Study 2010)
41% of Millennials have made a purchase using their smartphone
40% of Millennials think that blogging about workplace issues is acceptable. Compared to 28% of Boomers (Iconoculture 2011)
39% of Millennials have a tattoo (Pew Study 2010)
38% of Millennials count themselves as Democrats, 28% Independents, 26% Republicans (Brookings Institution Study, March 2011)
35% of employed Millennials have started their own business on the side to supplement their income (Iconoculture 2011)
33% of Millennials live in cities and 14% live in rural environments
32% of Millennials say they don’t like advertising in general, compared to 37% of the general population (Experian Simmons Study)
31 the age of the oldest Millennials in 2011
29% of Millennial workers think work meetings to decide on a course of action are very efficient. Compared to 45% of Boomers (Iconoculture 2011)
28% of Millennials have a gun in their home (Pew Study 2010)
27% approximate decline in email usage among those ages 12-34 over the past year (ComScore Study 2010)
26% of Millennials say they are not affiliated with any religion (Pew Study 2010)
23% of Millennials think they will still be with their first employer after two years (8095 Live survey 2011)
21% of Millennials say helping people in need is one of the most important things in life (Pew Study 2010)
20% of Millennials are Hispanic. Millennials are more racially diverse than any generation before them (U.S. Census Bureau 2011)
19% of Millennials have voted on American Idol (Pew Study 2010)
15% of Americans ages 25-29 who had never been married in 1960, compared to 55% in 2011 (U.S. Census Bureau)
14% of the Millennial population is African-American (Pew Study 2010)
12% (only) of Millennials disagreed that they should pay more for higher quality items (Intrepid Study 2010)
11% of Millennials have boomeranged back to their parents house after graduating from college because of the recession (Pew Study 2010)
8% of 18-29 year-old internet users have used a location sharing service such as FourSquare (Pew Study 2010)
7 average number of jobs a person will have by age 26 (Intrepid Study 2010)
6 # of text message sent by those ages 13-18 every waking hour (Nielsen Study 2010)
4 average number of times that Millennials eat out per week (3.39 per week to be exact), more than any other generation
Unless I am stocking up on a massive load of groceries or getting a lot of produce, you will find me checking out at the UScan when I’m grocery shopping. I like that it’s faster and I don’t have to feel ashamed about the multiple bags of candy I am buying. However, when produce is involved I tend to go to an actual cashier. I hate when I grab an apple that doesn’t have a sticker and have to go through the list to find the type of apple I picked up (that’s if I’m lucky enough to remember if I grabbed a Fuji or Gala). It is impressive how many sticker-less veggies I find.
If you are like me, I have some great news. Toshiba Tec is now developing the Object Recognition Scanner, which reads items without the use of barcodes. It looks at colors and patterns of different products to determine what type of produce you are purchasing without having to type in a code. It can even differentiate between two types of apples! With this technology, Toshiba Tec now has the large task of developing a comprehensive database of produce and other products to be recognized by the scanner. This database would be sold with the scanners so that individual stores would not have to train the machine themselves. The database will have a full year’s worth of data so that all vegetables will be included no matter their season. Even though this product is still in development, I can’t wait until it hits the US, and in particular Durham, NC. I’d probably buy more produce just to test it out!
Check out the video below to see how it works!