Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Want an interesting case study in shifting media consumption habits? Look no further than HBO’s Game of Thrones. Although plenty of consumers are enjoying the show via premium cable subscription (4.4 million viewers tuned in to the third-season Easter Sunday premiere), it’s impossible to figure out how many millions more are thrilling to the latest battlefield brawls via pirated files and passed-around HBO GO subscriptions (more than 1 million people downloaded bit torrents of the episode within a day of its initial broadcast). Game of Thrones isn’t the highest-rated show in TV history, but it is the most pirated.

Underemployed and pop-culture-obsessed Millennials particularly loathe what they perceive as unfair pricing monopolies in the cable-dominated content distribution system. Cord cutters eager for the likes of HBO to acknowledge their growing ranks petitioned the network online in the summer of 2012, asking that it offer its HBO GO streaming service as a standalone subscription. The grassroots campaign, Take My Money, HBO!, was gently rebuffed via the network’s official Twitter account.

But as evidence mounts that the company’s offerings are the most pirated on the Web, and that Millennial “kids” are glomming onto their parents’ cable-package-based streaming services, HBO appears to be softening its stance. HBO CEO Richard Plepler is now publicly mulling the possibility of bundling HBO GO with broadband cable Internet service provider packages, while acknowledging that the network would have to make “the math work” before making any bold decisions.

While content providers and creators are carefully considering new distribution and funding models, consumers are busy busting down content-access barriers. The harsh reality for brands: Give the people what they want at a price they feel is fair, or be prepared for them to find it elsewhere for free — by any digital means necessary.


European luxury shoppers are shifting to a value mindset, and global megabrands are getting left behind. Sales at top European luxury brands are down, as chic Parisians and Milanese can no longer afford to shop with them. At the same time, the much-beloved free-spending international shoppers (especially those from China, Russia and the Middle East) are no longer filling brands’ glittering flagships.

Over half of the 23 brands (such as Gucci, Herm├Ęs and Dior) recently surveyed by Reuters reported lower footfall from tourists (particularly Asian shoppers) in their European flagships. These stores have grown to rely on wealthy luxury travelers to stay afloat, but now the well-shod shopper is going elsewhere. Outlet stores are increasingly enticing those who love a label as well as those who love a deal.

After all, just because consumers have less cash to flash, it doesn’t mean they’re willing to give up on the finer things. Luxe-for-less offers a new opportunity for brands: According to industry analysts FSP Ltd., revenue from Europe’s outlet malls has grown 60% since 2007, to €10.8 billion in 2012. Meanwhile, major European luxe outlet operator Value Retail reports that spend per visit rose 9.4% in 2012. New luxe outlet malls are opening in Russia, while a rising number of designer brands are opening their own discount stores to get in on the act.

The convergence of value-focused spending and a sense of democratic luxury is creating a demanding new luxury consumer. Across the board, consumers are less willing or able to spend as freely as in the past, and they’re applying a complex value equation to all purchases, whether they live in a penthouse or the projects. The luxury establishment may feel unsettled about the rise of the value-luxe shopper, but like consumers themselves, it will soon learn that offering high-value, high-quality goods is always a win-win.

Monday, February 18, 2013


Europeans are famed for their love of the good life, but the influence of global commerce and always-on tech toys and tools (plus the need to improve productivity in the wake of the eurozone crisis), has compromised their easygoing pace. While connectivity is key for harried midlifers and three-screen teens alike, they can have too much of a good thing. In February 2012, we identified a key shift in the US: More consumers were opting to go offline, Pulling the Plug to find a little quiet. Now we see a host of European services helping consumers to recharge by switching off.

On technology holidays, remote Scottish isles and Alpine resorts encourage (or even force) guests to keep their gadgets switched off for the entirety of their stay. At Volkswagen HQ in Germany, management switches off the BlackBerry email servers at the end of the working day so that workers can have a silent night. Other brands are using lack of connectivity as a selling point to consumers. In Amsterdam, Kit Kat has launched Free No-WiFi zones, which block WiFi signals within a 5-metre radius so that consumers can enjoy a rest from constant connectivity. Even retailers are hoping to offer shoppers some serenity. The No Noise concept store, open at UK department store Selfridges during January and February, strips branding and logos off famous products from Levis 501s to Heinz ketchup, also offering “no-brand” products from minimalist fashion labels like Maison Martin Margiela, Jil Sander and Acne. The no-Muzak space also includes meditation services and a Silence Room for an escape from the bustle of shopping.

Consumers asked for anywhere-anytime tech, and they got it. Now, overwhelmed and overstimulated, many are beginning to recognize that there’s such a thing as too much connectivity. The response is a conscious movement toward activities that emphasize undivided attention, community, balance and real-life experience. Marketers, take note: While your brand can offer more features and more choices to consumers, sometimes all they want is a stress-free and straightforward shopping trip, without all the noise.

By Iconoculture |

January 30, 2013 – 6:42 am
by Gwyneth Holland
Desire- By RUMI

A lover knows only humility, he has no choice.
He steals into your alley at night, he has no choice.
He longs to kiss every lock of your hair, don't fret,
he has no choice.
In his frenzied love for you, he longs to break the chains of his imprisonment,
he has no choice.

A lover asked his beloved:
- Do you love yourself more than you love me?
Beloved replied: I have died to myself and I live for you.
I've disappeared from myself and my attributes,
I am present only for you.
I've forgotten all my learnings,
but from knowing you I've become a scholar.
I've lost all my strength, but from your power I am able.

I love myself...I love you.
I love you...I love myself.

I am your lover, come to my side,
I will open the gate to your love.
Come settle with me, let us be neighbours to the stars.
You have been hiding so long, endlessly drifting in the sea of my love.
Even so, you have always been connected to me.
Concealed, revealed, in the unknown, in the un-manifest.
I am life itself.

You have been a prisoner of a little pond,
I am the ocean and its turbulent flood.
Come merge with me,
leave this world of ignorance.
Be with me, I will open the gate to your love.

I desire you more than food or drink
My body my senses my mind hunger for your taste
I can sense your presence in my heart
although you belong to all the world
I wait with silent passion for one gesture one glance
from you.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

DIY movie theatres appear in Moscow courtyards

A mobile movie theatre made of used wooden pallets has been launched by non-profit group On The Way. After its premiere in one of Moscow’s courtyards, it's starting to migrate across the city’s residential areas (, April 3 2012).

The project is focused on sustainability, not just in form but in content — all of the documentaries shown relate to environmental issues in urban spaces.

However, the mobile theater is not just about films. Under this umbrella, the non-profit group is also collecting recycled paper on the spot, as well as planning a giant chess set made of recycled materials, to travel along with the screen. It's also planning an even more unusual prop — a urinal unit with the sign “The courtyard is not a toilet”, to attract attention to the problem of urbanites polluting public spaces with human waste.


Young urban Russians are leading the movement for a cleaner and more sustainable lifestyle. It was primarily considered a "cool" Western trend but is now developing into a conviction that more urbanites are finding meaningful.

Entertainment remains one of the key motivations for crowds in Russia. That's why the element of fun is important for attracting attention, even to serious matters.

On the Way project
On the Way event video

Monday, June 25, 2012

Global consumers have a daily coffee habit — except for the Chinese and, surprisingly, Americans

Coffee has grown into a daily drink globally, even in countries that don’t have a tradition of consuming it.
Brazil and Italy have the largest percentage of consumers who drink coffee every day or most days. They also have, by far, the largest cohort of youth coffee drinkers. In general, coffee consumption is correlated with age — the lower the age, the lower the rate.
On the other end of the scale is China, which has a very low rate of regular coffee consumption.

Interestingly, the US is second to last. Americans who drink coffee on a regular basis are outnumbered by consumers in 15 countries, including in markets where tea — not coffee — is the traditional beverage.

For most China consumers, coffee is still pretty much a symbol of the Western lifestyle. Meeting up at a cafe or holding a cup of to-go coffee looks cool and cosmopolitan. But considering the high price of quality coffee, most Chinese consumers have neither the need nor the money to drink coffee every day.

While Americans like their coffee, they may prefer other beverages — soft drinks (both regular and diet), sports/energy drinks — to get them going in the morning. This tendency is more pronounced among younger generations.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Online chatter about Pinterest gets personal, while Instagram talk turns techy

Online chatter about Pinterest gets personal, while Instagram talk turns techy


The explosion in use of image-sharing social media platforms Instagram and Pinterest is perhaps proof that indeed a picture is worth a thousand words.

Aside from the obvious social media chatter, online Instagram conversations from April 25, 2012 to May 25, 2012 stick to the nuts and bolts of the experience, including the app itself and the mobile device of choice.

For the same time period, online conversations about Pinterest surrounded the kind of lifestyle topics seen on the platform, such as living rooms and dining tips.


Today's consumer looks for connections, including connections with businesses. As social media connections become more visual, it will no longer be sufficient to broadcast the latest promotion or sale textually. Businesses will instead need to provide a visually personal and relatable experience.

While both Pinterest and Instagram offer a visual social experience, the contrasts in chatter surrounding the two platforms — more techy for Instagram and more lifestyle for Pinterest — represent how they differ. Successful businesses will look for and capitalize on these differences.