The Pre Purchase Process

With great technology and information access at our fingertips, the pre-purchase process has changed considerably.  We have always done considerable research on our large purchases, such as a home, automobile, furniture etc.  We always have looked for the best price and quality, would drive to different locations to check it out and of course spend time doing some of our own negotiation so that even if we did not get the best deal, we convinced ourselves that we did.

Real-time access to information via the web and mobile devices has fundamentally changed our ability to do pre-buying research on just about every product.  In a previous blog, we covered the capabilities of MySupermarket in the UK, where you can compare prices across the largest Grocery and Health & Beauty stores in the UK. You’re guaranteed to find the best prices, all the offers and the best value.

In addition to the great service available to UK shoppers, MySupermarket recently raised expansion capital and one of its lead investors was WPP.  WPP is one of the largest media and advertising agencies in the world and clearly sees a new model to transform their traditional agency model into a direct e-commerce business.  They have invested $7 million dollars in this round to extend their digital assets

WPP says that it plans to use the investment to help extend its digital portfolio, and specifically help in the marketing and other services that it offers to is customers in packaged goods — the FMCG (Fast moving consumer goods) segment is one of the most important in WPP’s client base. The deal will see WPP become a minority shareholder in Dolphin Software, the company that makes mySupermarket.

What is so interesting about this is WPP’s vision to integrate all of their digital asset and media capabilities to not only influence your shopping behavior, their traditional business, but to influence it in a way that benefits their clients and WPP.  Could be a highly disruptive approach and a precursor to additional investments.

Mobile of course has a large and rapidly growing influence on our purchase behavior.  Check this out.

When it comes right done to it though, we are influenced primarily by two things:

And we love to do research on just about everything now:

Thanks to the folks at Milo Infographic for the cool images and insight.  The entire infographic can be found at

Have an awesome day.



Just a bit outside!

As we have covered, the iPad has totally changed the market for personal computers.  For a device that supposedly no one needed, it appears as if these forecasts were a bit wrong.  Just a bit outside 🙂

The growth of the iPad continues to be staggering.  Looks like it has become pretty important for consumers:

So the iPad is now used by 46.7% of those surveyed as their primary computer.  Impressive!

Looks like it has become a real favorite for non-work related activities.

And people are using their iPads for many different things:

Remarkable.  More on this report from Business Insider can be found at

Well done Business Insider.


What I Like About You?

We live in a world that is consumed with collecting personal information about us.  Many companies have compiled profiles on our attitudes, behaviors, shopping habits, viewing habits, financial history, family history and the like.  Some of this information is used in ways that can benefit us, such as targeted promotional offers, loyalty programs, pre-populated shopping lists, preference centers to receive what we want and so on.

As you are aware, the internet and now mobile and social applications have also created a new sea of information about our behaviors; what we read, what we click on, what sites we visit, how we navigate when on these sites, etc.  So what information are these social sites collecting about us.  Well the answer is much more than you think.

Before proceeding with the statistics, here is a great song to start your day.  One of my favorites by The Romantics.

The information below has been sourced from

Some collect information you expressly give them, like your credit card and telephone numbers. Others gather data based on how and where you use their services. This might include anything from device and browser information to location intel. And some of it gets really specific — think about your last search query or ad click. It’s probably all “fair” game.

Depending on the type gathered, social networks use data to enhance location services and target advertising (now you know why that sunglasses website you visited three months ago follows you all over the web). A few social sites even share certain information with marketers and/or third-party partners — in that case, you are responsible for familiarizing yourself with those other companies’ policies as they apply to you and your information.

Here is an excerpt from an infographic put together by

There is a lot of learning going on about you!

View the complete infographic at

Enjoy the weekend.

The Funk Brothers

Listening to a little Pandora smooth jazz yesterday afternoon and came across a band I did not know anything about, The Funk Brothers.  They were the band that played on many of the biggest hits from the Motown era.  Who knew?

The Funk Brothers was the nickname of Detroit, Michigan, session musicians who performed the backing to most Motown Records recordings from 1959 until the company moved to Los Angeles in 1972. They are considered one of the most successful groups of studio musicians in music history. The Funk Brothers played on Motown hits such as “My Girl“, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine“, “Baby Love“, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours“, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone“, “The Tears of a Clown“, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough“, and “(Love is Like a) Heat Wave“.

The role of the Funk Brothers is described in Paul Justman‘s 2002 documentary film Standing in the Shadows of Motown, based on Allan Slutsky‘s book of the same name. The opening titles claim that the Funk Brothers have “played on more number-one hits than The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys. Combined.”

The following information was provided by Pandora.  Enjoy the journey and the learning.  Thank you Pandora for the great write-up.

The Funk Brothers were the brilliant but anonymous studio band responsible for the instrumental backing on countless Motown records from 1959 up to the company’s move to Los Angeles in 1972. Woefully under appreciated as architects of the fabled “Motown sound,” the individual musicians were rarely credited on the records that relied upon their performances, which downplayed their importance to the label. Motown’s sophisticated, urbane brand of R&B certainly would have been difficult to achieve without the extensive jazz training that many of the Funk Brothers brought to the table. In order to keep that sound a distinctive brand name, Motown signed most of the group to exclusive, highly restrictive contracts during their tenure, although a few peripheral members were able to moonlight on sessions for other companies from time to time. In more recent years, the Funk Brothers’ legacy has begun to receive proper attention, most notably in Allen Slutsky’s 1989 book Standing in the Shadows of Motown, which focused on bass genius James Jamerson, and the 2002 documentary film of the same name, which covered the group as a whole.

Motown head Berry Gordy Jr. first assembled a studio band in 1959, culling its members from Detroit’s fertile club scene. Most of the players came from a jazz background, although some had more experience with blues or R&B, and there was a great deal of crossover among working musicians of the time. Among the early members were pianist/bandleader Joe Hunter (not to be confused with blues balladeer Ivory Joe Hunter) and the rhythm section of bassist James Jamerson and drummer William “Benny” Benjamin, who would go on to become the backbone of the Motown beat. Other regulars who came on board prior to 1962 were guitarists Robert White, Eddie Willis, and Joe Messina; alternate drummer Richard “Pistol” Allen; percussionists Jack Ashford (who handled the tambourine work) and Eddie “Bongo” Brown; and the aggressive pianist Earl Van Dyke, as well as numerous horn players. Eventually nicknamed the Funk Brothers, this aggregation would soon become an integral part of Motown’s rise to prominence and its commercial dominance during the glory years of 1963-1967. By 1964, Hunter had quit as bandleader, paving the way for classically trained keyboardist Johnny Griffith to join and for Van Dyke to become the group leader; drummer Uriel Jones also became an active member around the same time. In addition to the numerous hit singles they played on, the Funk Brothers also played quite often around the Detroit club scene.

Things began to change over 1967-1968. The Motown hit factory was forced to reinvent its sound to fit changing trends, and with producer Norman Whitfield’s brand of psychedelic soul guiding the label’s fortunes, guitarist Wah Wah Watson came on board to update the Funk Brothers’ sound. Moreover, the groundbreaking rhythm section of James Jamerson and Benny Benjamin was coming apart due to substance abuse problems. Benjamin passed away in 1969, and Jones took a much greater role in the aftermath of his death. Meanwhile, the massively influential Jamerson had grown unreliable; while he still performed, white bassist Bob Babbitt picked up much of his slack, and did an excellent job of replicating Jamerson’s unpredictable melodicism. This core group remained together until 1972, when Gordy moved the Motown offices to Los Angeles, unceremoniously abandoning the Funk Brothers. Still, the group did get one glorious last hurrah in Marvin Gaye‘s 1971 masterpiece What’s Going On, which made full use of the band’s jazz training (and listed full musician credits).

Some of the Funk Brothers went on to other session and backup gigs, while others soon drifted out of the music business; regardless, most of them remained in Detroit. James Jamerson passed away in 1983, and only received wider recognition posthumously; he was finally inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 in the sideman category. Eddie “Bongo” Brown also died in 1983; Earl Van Dyke passed on in 1992 and Robert White did the same in 1994. The surviving core members of the Funk Brothers reunited for Paul Justman’s documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, which was released in 2002 to generally excellent reviews; the same year, however, Richard “Pistol” Allen and Johnny Griffith both passed away.


Price Check Please!

Before all the awesome technology that we now have at our disposal, cashiers would yell out to someone in the store “Price Check Please” and someone would come up to the register, take a look at the product, go back to the aisle to find a similar product and then hurry (In some cases) back to the register to provide the correct price or to confirm.  Usually this was followed by “Spill in Aisle 5”. 🙂

Well, things have certainly changed.  As we know, products are scanned via a UPC (Universal Product Code), we present coupons that are also scanned using a bar code (either on our smartphones or by handing over a coupon) or using a QR (Quick Response) code to redeem our deal or special offer.  When on-line we use promotional codes that we have access to via our e-mail or through a quick search to find one that may be active.  Most on-line commerce sites provide an area for promotional codes at check-out.  These have become a standard for most on-line shoppers looking for a better deal; and aren’t we all.

When visiting a brick and mortar store, we have access to price check kiosks where we can scan an item for the price and other details, such as nutritional, before we get to the register to check-out.  We also have access to in-store hand held devices that enable us to scan all of our products while we shop and to access our frequent shopper history so that we know what we purchased in the past, what specials we can use, product and nutritional recommendations and many other “benefits” for the customer – as you know there is huge benefit for the retailer as they learn more and more about your behavior so they can improve the relevance of their communications with you.

And then of course we have these incredible smartphones that not only give us information and pricing about that product in that store, but also the price for that same product in competitive local retailers and for on-line retailers as well.  The power to find the best price sits in the palm of your hand.  Retailers are certainly responding to this “threat” in different ways.

Last holiday season for example, Amazon offered shoppers $5 to scan items in retail stores and to send that information back to Amazon so that they could understand the local competitive market pricing and make sure they had the best price.  Amazon’s Price Check app, which is available for iPhone and Android, allows shoppers to scan a bar code, take a picture of an item or conduct a text search to find the lowest prices. Amazon is also asking consumers to submit the prices of items with the app, so Amazon knows if it is still offering the best prices.  Now that is proactive “crowdsourcing” at its best.

Some retailers, like Target, are encouraging that behavior, giving shoppers gift cards and other rewards for checking in and scanning merchandise. Others, like Best Buy, are doing their best prevent it, even going so far as to strip the standard bar codes on products to discourage shoppers from running price comparisons with other retailers.

Empathica, recently issued a survey among 6,500 U.S. Internet users — a little more than half (52%) of whom identified as smartphone owners — to take a closer look at how they’re using mobile in stores. Impressively, 55% of smartphone owners said they’ve used a mobile device to compare prices between retailers. Thirty-four percent said they’ve scanned a QR code, and 27% have read online reviews from their devices before making purchase decisions.  Empathica provides Customer Experience Management programs to more than 200 of the world’s leading brands.

According to Empathica’s survey, here is how consumers are using their smartphones in store:

What your customer and prospect can now do while in your store is revolutionary.  You want to win?  Make sure you give your shoppers with what they need to engage.  It is no longer just about the product, but about the entire experience and how the shopper expresses themselves about you.

Let me know what you think about this post by commenting below.


Touchscreens – Part 2

Last week we touched on some of the amazing technology we are now dealing with as consumers and business people.  The touchscreens on our smartphones and tablet devices have enabled amazing things with regard to your creativity, productivity and overall engagement with the content on these devices.

These devices and the rapid emergence of social networks have provided an incredible amount of new advertising inventory for businesses to reach their consumers while also significantly increasing the difficulty of communicating with their customers.  So what is a business to do?  How engaged are consumers on these new devices and how responsive are they to advertising?

The IAB is the Internet Advertising Bureau and they have just published a new study about consumer responsiveness to advertising on touchscreen devices. Ads that appear on touchscreen devices like tablets and smartphones are showing some of the highest levels of engagement of all digital ads.

Before we delve into some of the detail, let’s pop it up a level and frame the different types of the mobile value proposition and consumer engagement.

Mobile value propositions vary by device type:

  • Smartphones are mission-critical devices for life, with nearly 70% of smartphone users saying they “won’t leave home without it.”
  • By contrast, tablets are a media consumption hub, with nearly 70% of tablet users reporting that their tablet is an “entertainment device.”
  • Engagement on tablets surpasses engagement on smartphones. Across key dimensions – use/consumption, the receptivity and action related to advertising, and the activity of shopping – tablet users are more easily engaged.
  • Although smartphones are more likely than tablets to be used outside the home, there is a clear reliance on their smartphones across high-value activities at home as well, for example while reading print media and watching TV.

Mobile affects traditional media consumption in distinct ways. Two audiences are emerging – one that drives traditional media through mobile (so mobile complements or augments their traditional media usage); another that detracts (so mobile substitutes for or replaces traditional media).  Almost half of tablet owners say having a tablet has had an impact (positive OR negative) on the amount of time they spend reading magazines and newspapers.

Here are some initial headlines from the report:

Size matters. Between tablet and smartphone users, the IAB found that those on tablets  are actually more engaged in advertising. When asked if they engage with ads more than once a week — that is, click on an ad for more information — 47 percent of tablet users responded yes, compared to 25 percent of smartphone users. Tablet users were also more likely to “take action” on the ad (that could mean buying something, downloading something, filling out a survey, or visiting another site): 89 percent of tablet users took action versus 80 percent of smartphone users.

The medium is the message. Also, as we’ve seen from other tablet research, people are more likely to be using their tablets to read and consume entertainment media for longer periods of time, while smartphones are about short bursts of use. Those shorter bursts imply that users will be less inclined to spend time clicking around on ads than on the tablet. Among smartphone users, 47 percent of smartphone users say they “never” interact with mobile ads, compared to just 23 percent on tablets.

Context is king. The top three categories for mobile ads, as ranked by respondents, were the same across tablets and smartphones, although their rankings differed. They were coupons related to things users were already browsing;  ads for products that were already being shopped for; and favorite brands (again possibly related to your browsing activity).

Much more information can be found in the 70 page report that was completed.  You can download the full report at  More to follow on this once I can dig a little deeper into the findings.



Since the beginning of our computing experience, we were tethered to the computer either through a mouse or a touchpad on the computer.  This devices enabled us to interact with our e-mail, games, browsers etc. and enabled us to navigate through the many options that exist in this wild, wild world.  But now all of that has been changed by the touchscreens available on our smartphones and tablets.  And what a new phenomenon this is.  We push, we pinch, we use all five fingers to make new and even more amazing things happen, all with our phalanges.

And this reminds me of a song:

Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won’t you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?

Now, I’m gonna love you
Till the heavens stop the rain
I’m gonna love you
Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I
[ Lyrics from: ]
Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?
Why won’t you tell me what she said?
What was that promise that you made?

I’m gonna love you
Till the heavens stop the rain
I’m gonna love you
Till the stars fall from the sky for you and I

Touch Me – The Doors

A classic of course.  But now back to the touchscreen topic.  What is a touchscreen you might ask?

A touchscreen is an electronic visual display that can detect the presence and location of a touch within the display area. The term generally refers to touching the display of the device with a finger or hand. Touchscreens can also sense other passive objects, such as a stylus. Touchscreens are common in devices such as game consoles, all-in-one computers, tablet computers, and smartphones.

The touchscreen has two main attributes. First, it enables one to interact directly with what is displayed, rather than indirectly with a pointer controlled by a mouse or touchpad. Secondly, it lets one do so without requiring any intermediate device that would need to be held in the hand (other than a stylus, which is optional for most modern touchscreens). Such displays can be attached to computers, or to networks as terminals. They also play a prominent role in the design of digital appliances such as the personal digital assistant (PDA), satellite navigation devices, mobile phones, and video games. (Sourced from Wikipedia)

There are many forms of touch technology. The first touchscreen appeared in 1965, and while we think of them as a relatively recent development, it’s easy to forget we’ve been using them in devices like cash machines for nearly 30 years.

More recently, we’ve seen two main types of touchscreen technology. The older resistive type uses a screen comprising two separate layers with a small gap between them. Pressing down on the top layer makes it touch the bottom layer, and the connection is recorded as a tap. The biggest drawback with resistive screens is that they’re far less accurate than other technologies, and most don’t support multi-touch.

Capacitive touchscreens use glass displays insulated with a conductive layer. As our fingers are also conductive, touching the screen produces a small charge that produces a disruption in the screen’s electrostatic field, which is recorded. Capacitive technologies are more accurate than resistive, and support multi-touch gestures.

Despite their obvious advantage, capacitive screens have their disadvantages too: they rely on the charge in your finger, so they won’t work with gloves.

These days, a new technology based on old standards is gaining ground. Optical touchscreens are developed by a company called NextWindow.  Working together, two optical sensors track the movement of any object close to the surface by detecting the interruption of an infra-red light source. The light is emitted in a plane across the surface of the screen and can be either active (infra-red LED) or passive (special reflective surfaces).

At the heart of the system is a printed circuit controller board that receives signals from the optical sensors.  Its software then compensates for optical distortions and triangulates the position of the touching object with extreme accuracy.

Some techno babble for you today.  All I know is that I love my iPad and my iPhone and the touchscreen capabilities are just awesome.

Enjoy the day.