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The100: Populist brands, creative habits and Disney’s R&D lab

Much ado about consumer groups

The learnings from our ‘You are not your consumer’ event last month continue – this time we focus on consumer groups. Good, bad, indifferent? See what our speakers had to say.

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In the US, consumer experience is getting worse (again). And it has now fallen to its lowest score since they started measuring it. Chatbots are blamed, but also shrinkflation and junk fees. 

“There should have been more testing, more experimenting and design work before putting some of these efforts in front of consumers.” 

It’s good to talk

There’s overwhelming evidence that talking to strangers [consumers?] is good for us. Steph Balzer quotes Joe Keohane:

Studies have shown that talking with strangers can make us happier, more connected to our communities, mentally sharper, healthier, less lonely, and more trustful and optimistic.”

Time to get out there and talk. I’ll be right behind you. 

The rise of the populist brand

Luke Alexander-Grose’s super clear, super interesting overview of the rise of the populist brand is my read of the week. 

“While leveraging populist tactics can boost brand visibility and yield short-term gains, this approach, much like political populism, has significant risks. Positioning your brand as a rebellious outsider can attract similarly discontented groups, who may turn against you as swiftly as they would a perceived adversary. Prioritizing the creation of a loyalist community over establishing a brand with a genuine purpose can lead to a sizable but volatile audience, one that requires ongoing engagement to prevent dissatisfaction.”

Luke uses the energy drink, Prime by YouTubers KSI and Logan Paul, as one of his examples. And, according to Paul Bailey in Marketing Week, these content creators are focusing on audience orientation over product or market orientation when building their brands.

Tiny creative habits

Neil Perkin wrote about the art of noticing and how it can lead to unexpected insights and breakthrough innovations, sharing a few examples in the process:

“There’s the melted peanut cluster bar that led to the invention of the microwave oven, the burrs caught on dog’s coat that inspired the invention of Velcro, and the accident with a glass flask that led to the creation of safety glass […] We might not be discovering X-rays or Penicillin but developing a habit for small acts of attention helps us to get more out of the world.”

And finally…

Is it a surprise that people don’t think brands speak their language?

Slop. The new term to describe shoddy A.I.-generated material.

Inside Disney’s R&D lab, where the team works on innovations for the company’s theme parks. Lanny Smoot – you’re my hero.