Evaluating the Evolution of Smooth

It all started in the summer of 2013. A twerking, tweaking former teen star was climbing the charts with “We Can’t Stop”. (What a time to be alive!) And as I watched the insanely popular music video something struck me – no, not the giant bear backpacks and no, not the man eating a sandwich made of dollar bills. A simple application of lip balm in a round, red pod. miley

It was instantaneous I that wanted this. But why? It wasn’t until after a flurry of Google searching I found it these stress-ball sized spheres are 95% organic, petroleum free and full of vitamins. So how could a 2 second flash of product, applied by Hannah Montana (not someone I particularly idolize), conjure in me a need to try every colour available at the drug store? And how has this now ubiquitous brand stirred such a demand in other consumers?

The company, Evolution of Smooth or “Eos” has been around 2009. In recent years it has resurrected a love for lip balm not seen since the 90s. The company also produces hand creams, but it’s the balm that collects the big bucks. It rivals natural competitors Burt’s Bees and conventionally made products like Blistex.

Pop artists are throwing in almost as much product placement of Eos as Beats by Dre headphones. eosNow that’s saying something! Eos has over 3 million Facebook “likes” and over 800k Instagram followers. Celebs like Jennifer Lopez are gramming pics of themselves using unique Eos hashtags. jlo

The company’s wild popularity has sprung about a multitude of copycats such as this cube from recognized lip care brand Soft Lips. soft

Because of Eos’s strong social media presence, the company has invested in few traditional advertising efforts. They know their target audience (young, trendy, social media savvy) and capitalize on it. The product design is genius in it’s simplicity – modern, stylish, uncomplicated, candy coloured and collectable. It’s oversized shape doesn’t have much in the way of practicality (try putting one in your jean pocket), but neither does an oversized clutch or a pair of 5 inch heels. That doesn’t make them any less desirable. The balm itself is again simple in nature. Soft, sweet smelling and easy to apply. The little Eos “eggs” fit perfectly into this generation of chemical conscious consumers searching for product purity.

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Netflix Copycats Spring Up Everywhere, Satisfying TV Binge Cravings

Shomi drama! Shomi romance! What ever you are Craving, chances are one of the many online streaming options will have it for you. It seems 2015 will be the year of the online streaming service with Rogers and Shaw’s Shomi.com, offering a wide range of our favourite series for $8.99 a month. woman-tv-heart-habits-400x400 Or Bell Canada’s answer to Netflix – Crave TV. For a mere $4 a month you can binge-watch classics like 90’s sitcom Seinfeld. (However, Crave TV tacks on a few extra bucks if you want movies and some select TV series). Or there’s Amazon Prime and Hulu as well. If you don’t feel like paying and you like your pirated movies with Korean subtitles, there are countless free, virus induced illegal sites who probably will want your credit card number anyways…

It’s no surprise the internet is changing the way many people view television. It’s creating a new phenomenon mentioned above known as “binge watching”. Netflix has caught on to these 10 hour TV show gluts, aware that people can plod through entire seasons on a stay-home Sunday. Earlier this year, Netflix released a complete season of their hit original program, “Orange is the New Black”, in one mass upload. It was a delight to bingers who easily consumed the prison based comedy-drama in one big feed. TCDORIS EC030

The days of waiting week to week to find out what woman McDreamy was going to choose may be coming to end. (I was a shameless Grey’s Anatomy fan for many years). But for you traditionalist TV connoisseurs, we are still a ways away from this becoming the norm. Despite the uprising of online streaming services, only 10% of television viewers are using them to get their fix. A good percentage of us still watch week to week with anticipation, and maybe some of us prefer that method.

Fighting Photoshop

Lately Adobe’s cellulite sucking, crease smoothing, skin tanning graphic editor Photoshop has been the talk of celebrities and advertisers alike.

In 2012, this video was released to demonstrate the dramatic changes Photoshop can make to a woman’s body. The video takes a normal woman’s photo and alters it into a more “idealistic”, nearly doll-like shot.

Some people are growing tired of Photoshopped bodies. Everywhere you look there are glossy magazines and billboards with perfectly crafted images that make real life consumers feel inadequate. Actress Keira Knightley recently spoke out about how offended she was when her figure was digitally enhanced for a movie poster. She opted to have a topless photoshoot done to reveal her true, unedited shape. Other frequently pictured celebrities such as movie star Brad Pitt and Victoria Secret model Gisele Bündchen have been captured through an unaltered lens to show their real selves. 

American Eagle is banning Photoshop from their recent ad campaign, showcasing models who are “Aerie Real.” aerie-real-5The photographs include beauty marks, dimples and fat. (By “fat”, they refer to the normal gather of skin around the belly or proportionately sized thighs. None of the models could be considered fat.) Singer and actress Vanessa Hudgens was featured in Bongo’s 100% non-retouched fall campaign. Companies who chose to implement campaigns that are Photoshop free are being hailed as brave for having real women representing them….

My favourite example of a company who actually got this right is Dove, who uses your average woman in their campaigns. halfDove celebrates wrinkles and freckles and slender girls and curvy girls and healthiness and confidence. Some of their ads seem “shocking” to our delicate beauty sensibilities, but that isDove (big?) only because they are so authentic.

Of course the entire beauty industry will not change overnight. At least the ban of Photoshopped faces in some campaigns are a benefit, but not all companies will go this route. Edited images sell and will continue to sell for years to come. As consumers, even if we know the truth, we still have a need to emulate these idealistic images and it is built in to our psyche that, say, an advertised liquid concealer will help us achieve it.

Coke of a Kind – Why Mass Customization is a Way to Sell Anything

The Share a Coke campaign designed by soft drink corporation Coca Cola has spread it’s way around the world since it’s launch in Australia in 2011. The concept is simple – each Coke beverage has a unique name printed on them, leading buyers to maul through store fridges and friends’ beverage coolers to find their name. 3a3b67dFinding your name on a Coke has shown to be an Instagram-worthy experience as I’ve noticed on my newsfeed since the Canadian campaign launch this past summer.

Now Diet Coke Israel is jumping on the bandwagon with their new campaign. Coca Cola Israel crafted the idea of manufacturing 200 million colourful, uniquely composed bottle labels ensuring no Diet Coke will be alike. diet-coke-algorithm-3The campaign is promoted by rich rainbow out-of-home ads. Diet Coke has been experiencing a slump in sales recently. Their last campaign failed to save the day, as it was criticized for being a subliminal drug reference. More on the “You’re On” campaign:   (http://sellmeaboutit.com/2014/03/08/company-alludes-being-on-coke-is-cool/)

Mass-customization is popular in our society, especially among millennials who want to express their individualism but still be among the swarm who participate in corporate culture. Think of how pleased many of us are when the barista spells our names correctly on our favourite cup of Starbucks coffee, making it our own.

Jones Soda did it first. jonesMany years ago Jones Soda manufactured their bottle labels with various cool photographs that customers could submit themselves. The soft drink company began releasing limited editions such as their Halloween pack which featured new, limited edition flavours as well as bottles. The Jones Soda website also offers customers the chance to upload a photo to be printed on specialty bottles that they can have shipped to them.

The parallel of consumer culture’s need to proudly advertise our own selfhood with our equal need to cohere to what everyone else is doing reveals how the mass customization of products really is a genius marketing tool. Coke explains in the video above that the essence of their brand is that there’s something extraordinary in every person. It’s a broad yet personal statement. It is exactly the way that mass customization is broadly personal, an ever contradictory concept that today’s consumer is wanting more and more of.

Pre Order Your Pumpkin Spice! Starbucks Introduces Mobile Ordering App

6:00 AM – Your alarm is chiming. You fumble for your phone to hit ‘snooze’.

6:04 AM – That wasn’t enough of a snooze but your routine of putting yourself together for the day doesn’t allow you any more sleep.

6:45 AM – You’re running for your bus.

7:00 AM – You’re running for your second bus.

7:45 AM – You’ve made it to Starbucks with 15 minutes to spare before your meeting/interview/presentation and you’re ready to order your favourite venti mocha/chestnut/pumpkin/caramel with whip. Always get whip. Alas, the line to the counter is ten miles long! And the front runner of the eager orderers has never set foot in a Starbucks! She doesn’t know whether to get whip! You watch the clock tick as the line is at a stand still. Does this sound familiar?

intro

Starbucks has come up with a solution! The coffee shop heavyweight, which originated in Seattle, is testing a mobile ordering app in 150 of their stores in Portland, Oregon. The app for smartphones will allow customers to pre-order their beverage and pick it up without waiting in a massive line-up.

This sounds like a great innovation for consumers because, as a society, we are moving towards a digital future. If the tests are successful the app will give Starbucks an edge on competitors and make it easy for the company to collect data on customer ordering patterns. It will also be another platform to infuse with targeted ads.

Studies conducted on digital ordering have shown that consumers will spend more when placing orders online. Pizza delivery companies such as Domino’s have seen a very positive response to their online ordering option. 

The development of these apps and features highlight the way our purchasing behaviour is changing. We are drifting away from the person to person aspect of the purchase, cutting more time off our already fast food. Apple launched Apple Pay this past Monday, an app I’ve been expecting for a while now. It lets iPhone users pay by simply pulling out their device. No longer must you plunder through your pockets or dig for your wallet as you approach the checkout. Lopping off precious moments spent scrounging, and detaching you from the idea that money is being removed from your account. Passbook_ApplePay_JPEG_800

Starbucks customers in other parts of the world will have to wait until Christmas time to try out the app for themselves. This is good news to those of you whose mornings are plagued with lengthy lines and indecisive imbeciles imploring baristas as to what exactly is a “dark roast”.

#WhipIt Attempting to Wipe Out Gender Bias

Here in 2014, do gender biases still exist? The Philippines was rated the 5th most progressive country in terms of gender equality, however statistics show they may not be as far ahead as they think.

madworld

Hair care company Pantene has brought to light some interesting information as part of their new campaign for Filipino women called #WhipIt. A look at Filipino society in the 2013 Gender Gap Report reveals 70% of men say women need to downplay their personality in order to be accepted while 66% of females believe men are more deserving of employment then they are.

#WhipIt is a forum based out of the social media site rappler.com. It is rich with articles that challenge societal norms, labeling, stereotyping and other issues women may face, particularly in the workplace. Pantene’s goal is to encourage women to shine strong, as their hashtag (#) suggests. #Shinestrong.

“We believe that a lot of people default to gender stereotypes without stopping to think if they make any sense. By highlighting this we seem to have set off a conversation on the subject. And we hope that in the future, people will start thinking twice before labelling women unfairly.” says a representative for Pantene Philippines in regards to the campaign.

The #WhipIt ad spot has gone viral across the globe through social media sharing. That’s how I was lucky enough to stumble upon it as a perused my Facebook newsfeed this morning. Truthfully what kept me watching was the businesswoman in the beginning (wearing the fabulous Louboutin heels), as I one day envision myself in that position of power. Being a forward thinking individual with some faith left in society, I never gave much thought to the challenges that could arise if I were to be that businesswoman one day.

An interesting video was brought to my attention. It is a rundown of the successes and failures in the representation of women in the American media in our time, 2013.

2013 print ad for Axe
2013 print ad for Axe

Watching a video such as this places an even greater value on efforts put forth by Pantene Philippines and other companies who are attempting to open up discussion and heal gender equality issues.

What’s in a Name?

LuLuLemon yoga pants
LuLuLemon yoga pants

I was 15 when my city’s LuLuLemon apparel store first opened in our downtown shopping core. I saved for months and one day walked in there, a stack of twenties folded neatly in my wallet. It was money I had earned spending my Friday nights tirelessly babysitting a pack of monstrous, barbarian psychopaths (dear little children). I went to school and hiked my shirt up above my waistband to proudly display the little white logo on my black yoga pants. This would let everyone know that like every other girl in the tenth grade, I too had spent $120 on a single pair of pants. The waves of acceptance came crashing over me.

The gosh darn little white logo
The gosh darn little white logo

What is it about brands that makes us act this way? Sure, the material of the LuLu pant is a higher quality, but I could buy 12 pairs of yoga pants for the same price on a sale day at Walmart.

The idea behind brand obsession is that products are created in the factory but brands are created in the mind of the consumer. Brands to us have an image, a mentality, a philosophy, a status quo. And what is attached to the brand, defines us as people. Owning my LuLuLemon pants in high school meant I was about the LuLu image. I was also not an outsider among my peers, which is the scariest thing to be at 15.

As I was researching about brand obsession for this blog, all that seemed to pop up were various other blogs gloating product reviews for their favourite brands. My personal favourite was a blog titled “Spoiled Little LA Girls” which gave the most in depth analysis I ever read on why I should buy $600 jeans.

A strange thing happened however as I was maneuvering my way through high school. By eleventh grade there was a slow uprising of what we know today as the “hipster.” Hipsterism started off as counter-culture that branched away from popular music and fashion. Hipsters were unique and ironic, rejecting the ideals of mainstream consumers. Suddenly we were buying our pants at thrift stores, snapping photos for Facebook on Polaroid cameras and listening to The King of Carrot Flowers on vinyl. agrr

Soon enough this counter-culture came full circle, and suddenly stores like Urban Outfitters were mass-producing the sense of uniqueness. Walking through the hallways with the same vintage-inspired combat boots and Biggie Smalls oversized tee as thirteen other girls suddenly lost it’s appeal.

Perhaps it’s an inevitability of human nature. Despite our longing to be unique we still strive for acceptance from our peers and to feel, to some degree, we belong. Sure there are those who truly rebel against societal views of what is “cool”, and they are often the trendsetters who lead us into new definitions of the word.

Personally, I still buy LuLuLemon clothing from time to time. And yes, the primary reason is still to tote that little logo. I suppose the psychosis of the brand obsession is something nearly impossible to shake for some when it is so deeply imbedded. However I can safely say that LuLuLemon may be my only weakness.

I look at my iPhone, I sip from my Starbucks.