The Week in BIG Ideas Volume 5
By Beverley Hammond
Founder & CEO
It’s hard to believe it is September already. But with two tell-tale signs that autumn is upon us happening this week - back-to-school and the IFA Global Innovations Show (dubbed “the leading showcase for the global technology industry”) there is a steady flow of technology stories in the news. So, this The Week in BIG Ideas is a little more ‘tech’ focused than in previous issues. Welcome to Volume 5.
BIG Idea #1: Hey Sports Fans! You’re Being ‘Watched’
You’ve probably never heard of TurnPike – this Swedish wearable tech company looks by all accounts like a bunch of guys who watch sports together all day long and then get together to talk about sports around the water-cooler. But thanks to a partnership with Premier League Champions (that’s the league of top English football/soccer clubs) Manchester City, you can soon expect to hear a lot more about this boys’ club and the category they are creating - Fan Technology, or “FanTech”.
For its part, Manchester City (”ManCity” or “City”), the team that broke a whole host of Premier League records this past season, appears to be leading off the field of play as well, by giving their legion of fans a new way to show their City pride. The Fantom Watch by TurnPike, described as a FitBit but in ManCity colours is a first in sports and designed “for the fan who wants 24/7 breaking news about City, from City, packaged in a premium aluminum housing with touch display and soft silicone straps.”
In marketing there is a phenomenon called the “Badge-effect” – that’s when brand loyalists outwardly define themselves as part of a specific brand community and associate themselves with the brand as a status symbol. For ManCity supporters, the Fantom is a “badge” – another way to demonstrate they are part of this winning tribe.
The logo emblazoned watchband houses a screen that acts as a ticker of sorts, delivering custom data, statistics and scores or, as the Club calls it “inside information”, along with other features like fan polls and quizzes.
It has been pointed out that you could source pretty much the same information on your iPhone. But football (aka soccer) fans are a special breed of sports lovers – an enthusiastic bunch with a penchant for match day intoxication. Anyone who has experienced the bedlam that typically ensues at these jam-packed sporting events, even here at home [I’m looking at you TFC fans] can appreciate the risk involved with fumbling around your mobile phone mid-match. This gives it a convenience factor. But for the most part the Fantom’s fan engagement functions are pretty basic and probably redundant.
In addition to serving up real-time sports statistics, the Near Field Communication Technology (NFC tech) embedded in the device allows fans to identify other Fantom wearers nearby, and “make a connection between members of the same fan community”. On the face of it that sounds great, except that another well-known trait of football fandom is the wearing and waving of team colours like scarves, flags, jerseys face and body paint, making it almost impossible to miss another member of your “fan community”. So, that too, seems a bit redundant. Other NFC Tech enabled benefits include contactless payments at gates and concessions. Not needing your wallet is another good idea when drunk in a crowd of rowdies - see my reference to the mobile phone issue above.
From the product name to the Club colours, and all of the exclusive supporter benefits, the marketing of the Fantom is terrific. But the real genius of the device lies not in what it gives fans, but what it gives the Club. Through NFC technology the organization has full access to data about the behaviour patterns of Fantom wearers in and around the stadium like where they are going and most importantly what they are buying. Hidden behind all that “inside information” “community connection” and “convenience” is a deeper understanding of the ManCity consumer …oops… I mean, “fan” that can inform every revenue-generating decision the Club makes. It's the Brand Badge version of the same consumer data collection major retailers have been using for years.
No doubt when the Fantom takes off with this loyal fan-base, and the Club can leverage the consumer insights it collects, ManCity will not just be leading the league off the field of play but breaking records there as well…those of the revenue sort.
BIG Idea #2: Maybe Opposites Don't Attract, After All
This week one of my favourite online newsletters WIRED Magazine is contemplating the state of romance in an on-demand world, including whether it’s even possible anymore to find love the old-fashioned way. Quite coincidentally I am contemplating the world of dating apps.
It all started on a lazy Saturday. Whilst scrolling through my favourite interior design Instagram posts over morning coffee, up popped a sponsored post from Luxy “the millionaires dating app”. The image of a middle-aged man assisting a somewhat younger woman out of a helicopter certainly caught my eye. But what really grabbed me was the caption below it: “Luxy – Tinder minus poor people”
I immediately showed it to my husband, describing it to him as “genius positioning”. Then I went down the rabbit hole of the wonderful world of dating apps to see how others were marketing their services. In my total naivete about this sector, I expected to discover a saturated market of “sameness” – carbon copy sites all going after the identical audience. I was wrong. What I found there was a multi-billion-dollar industry made up of successful businesses built almost entirely on market segmentation.
One of the biggest mistakes brands can make is to try to be “all things to all people”. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that reaching more people to buy more stuff is an effective sales strategy. Typically, it's a more expensive, less effective approach. Alternatively, focusing on a specific core group and ignoring everybody else allows you to tailor your message to the needs of one audience, making a stronger connection with your “best customer” (those most inclined to buy what you’re selling), without wasting energy and marketing resources on low-value prospects.
Luxy, like the many dating sites designed to bring together like-minded individuals - whether they are ambitious Silicon Valley professionals; private school graduates; dog lovers; Christians; Jews; farmers; and just about every other segment you can think of - has that figured out.
Anybody interested in “looking for love” (and I use that loosely) on a dating app for millionaires will not take offence to its dismissal of poor people. In fact, quite the opposite. Anybody who takes offence is definitely not the target.
Notwithstanding the suggestion that elite dating sites are so pervasive they are actually changing the face of America by contributing to income inequality, they are, for all intents and purposes, businesses built on a fail-safe model – exclusivity.
Perhaps the best example I found is BeautifulPeople.com – the dating site for, you guessed it, beautiful people. Ironically, this is a business that is committed to being a truly ‘authentic brand’ – one that lives it values at all touchpoints. Apparently, BeautifulPeople.com recently kicked no less than 3,000 members off the site for “letting themselves go”. Weight gain and 'graceless' ageing, were cited as the two biggest reasons.
This business doesn't just exclude people who aren’t its core audience, it takes pride in it, boasting that since BeautifulPeople.com launched in 2003, more than 7.5million people have been rejected.
Sad social commentary, I get it. But brilliant business strategy.
BIG Idea #3: Because, Bilingual Google
And, speaking of artificial…Google this week reasserted its leadership position in Artificial Intelligence and reminded the world of its promise to have Google Assistant understand and speak 30 languages by the end of this year.
As Google pursues its mission to speak the language of 95% of all Android users anywhere in the world, new languages are being added to Google Assistant pretty much all the time. That alone is impressive. But despite that, users have been forced to choose a single language setting and change that setting each time they switch to another language. Until now.
As of this week, Google Assistant is officially bilingual. The new function allows users to give commands in any two of English, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Japanese seamlessly and Google Assistant will respond in the language it hears.
Here in Canada alone, it is estimated that upwards of 20% of households speak more than one language at home so this recognition of the modern-day multilingual family is an idea whose time has come.
Merci! Gracias! Gracie! Danke! Arigatou! and Thanks! Google.
If you’re enjoying this blog, please pass it on and feel free to share any ideas – your own or others – with me at firstname.lastname@example.org, using the Subject Line: Here’s a BIG Idea!
Until next week, this was The Week in BIG Ideas!