The Sudden, Uncomfy Fall of The Biggest Pandemic Fashion Trend

Last year, many people got many things wrong about how the pandemic might change our lives. No, cities did not die; yes, people still blow out birthday candles and risk spreading their germs. But few 2020 forecasts missed their mark so spectacularly as the oft-repeated claim that, as the world reopened, we’d return to it in sweatpants.

If any single event crystallizes this misfire, it’s last month’s announcement that the direct-to-consumer loungewear brand Entireworld was going out of business. The company had been a breakout darling of 2020, its cheerfully hued cotton basics poised at the fortuitous intersection of “cute enough for Zoom” and “cozy enough to work, sleep, and recreate from bed in, for the bulk of a calendar year”. News outlets, meanwhile, pointed to Entireworld’s astonishing 662% increase in sales last March not as a right-place, right-time one-off, but an indication of our collective sartorial destiny.

The sweatpant has supplanted the blue jean in the pants-wearing American imagination,” declared GQ last April. The New York Times Magazine followed suit a few months later with an Entireworld name-check in its August 2020 cover story, headlined “Sweatpants Forever”.

But it wasn’t to be. Instead, as 2021 brought forth the world’s reopening, I noticed a style sensibility that seemed to defy last year’s housebound pragmatism. From Instagram to the streets of my New York City neighborhood, the people were turning looks. Kooky looks, to be precise, from platform Crocs to strong-shouldered silhouettes.

My online window shopping exploits turned up scores of sundry garments, across brands, all in the same exuberant hue of 90s DayGlo green. From sensible underpants to faux fur–trimmed tops, I subconsciously catalogued the color labels assigned to each (“celery”, “gross green”, “slime”).

This new, psychedelic palette seemed like a spiritual departure from Trump-era minimalism and its many shades of beige. Less dutiful, more winking.

Sweatpants seem destined for a mere supporting role. Jessica Richards, a trend forecasting consultant based in New York City, agrees that the pandemic has changed the way we dress. “It’s actually for the better,” she says – and in more ways than one.

It’s no coincidence that the styles of the Great Re-entry reflect a certain giddiness, says Dr Jaehee Jung, a University of Delaware fashion studies professor who researches the psychology of fashion and consumer behavior. “The fact that there are more opportunities to present ourselves to others makes us excited about the clothes we wear,” Jung tells me.

“I’m definitely seeing people taking more risks, in terms of color choices, prints and patterns, even shapes and silhouettes that they wouldn’t have worn before,” says Sydney Mintle, a fashion industry publicist in Seattle. “People are like, ‘life is short, wear yellow.’”

Tamar Miller, CEO of the women’s luxury footwear brand Bells & Becks, has seen this fashion risk-taking impulse first-hand in her company’s recent sales. “My absolute, number-one, kind of off-the-charts shoe is one I did not expect,” she says.

That shoe, per Miller’s description, is a pointed-toe loafer in black-and-white snakeskin leather, topped by a prominent decorative tab with hardware detailing. It’s a bold choice, and one that affirms the demographic breadth of the desire to make a statement. Miller’s target customers are not members of Gen Z, but rather their parents and grandparents.

Secondhand clothing – and its promise of luxe-for-less – has also found its time to shine.

2020 was a banner year for the online resale market. Digital consignment platforms like Depop, ThredUp, and Poshmark swelled with the sartorial discards of an estimated 52.6 million people in 2020, 36.2 million of whom were selling for the first time, according to a survey by ThredUp. A majority of millennial and Gen Z consumers indicated that they plan to spend more on secondhand apparel in the next five years than in any other retail category, a sentiment expressed by 42% of consumers overall.

It’s a phenomenon that may also be contributing to the moment’s ethos of mix-and-match experimentation. “Gone are the days of sleek, edited ‘capsule wardrobes’, and in their place are drawers overstuffed with vintage treasures sourced from Poshmark or Depop,” writes Isabel Slone in a recent Harper’s Bazaar article headlined “How Gen Z Killed Basic Black”.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that fast fashion is on its way out. (“Some of those brands are doing big business, and the numbers don’t lie,” Mintle sighs.) But the boom reflects, and may have helped accelerate, a growing departure from trend-chasing and disposable, low-cost wares. You might even say that reflexive participation in fads is so 2019 – not least because the US is struggling with supply chain bottlenecks as we enter the holiday season.

But our Roaring Twenties may be on the horizon. For 2022, Richards anticipates sparkle, novelty, “shoes that go ‘clunk’” and “really maximalist styling”. She didn’t mention sweatpants.

By:

Source: The sudden, uncomfy fall of the biggest pandemic fashion trend | Fashion | The Guardian

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Influencers Are Utilizing Collaboration To Win Against AI Algorithms; Here’s How

It’s normal to hear the cliche, two are better than one, but this statement has been proven true among influencers in the last five years. Growing followership and influence on social media is not an easy feat, and with changing algorithms, it’s even more difficult.

Social media has become the top cultural influence on society. More people, especially Gen Z and Millennial generations, depend on social media platforms for their information, advice, and counsel, especially as regards lifestyle and fashion choices. This reality has placed social media influencers on a pedestal as some of the most relevant figures in modern culture.

The biggest question that influencers and aspiring influencers have to answer consistently is, “Can we still grow a healthy following organically in the age of changing algorithms?”

Renowned supermodel Stefanie Gurzanski seems to think that this is possible. In her words, “Value is king, the first step to doing it organically is finding your audience and determining what they consider as value. Then you have to create content around that and dish it out consistently. When all is said and done, you need help from others as well.”

As a supermodel, Stefanie Gurzanski, who is more popularly known as Baby G, has featured on the cover of some of the world’s most prestigious magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Elle. She has also stunned at many of the world’s most prestigious fashion shows and red carpets. However, one of her most significant accomplishments has been turning that success into a digital media empire and becoming an Instagram influencer with millions of extremely loyal followers.

Stefanie believes that collaboration is one of the most powerful keys to growing followership in a world where algorithms are becoming more demanding. In this article, Stefanie shares why she thinks collaboration is so important.

The Golden Rule of Algorithms

According to Instagram, the main rule about Instagram algorithms is that not one but many algorithms influence a user’s Instagram experience. Different AI algorithms analyze user behavior on the different parts of the app; reels, feeds, and explore. All these algorithms work together to determine what we see or not see on Instagram.

The Instagram model is more or less the same on Facebook, Titok, and youtube, where various AI algorithms are used to achieve these exact results.

According to Stefanie, “Instagram has been a bit more transparent about how their algorithms function and this has helped influencers build systems around their brands that help them get the most out of the platform. What I have found is that the key ingredient that enables us to get the best out of all the algorithms is collaboration.”

Adam Mosseri has taken his time to summarize how the Instagram algorithm functions in a post. Four key factors influence the Instagram algorithm for feed posts.

  • First, the algorithm considers the basic information about the post; Is it a photo or a video? When was it posted? How many likes does it have?
  • Secondly, it considers the information about the poster; How interesting does the user find them to be? How often does the user engage with their content?
  • The third factor is the user’s activity; is the user a heavy video-watcher, or does the user prefer other kinds of content?
  • The final factor is the user’s interaction history; does the user typically engage with the poster’s posts by liking or commenting?

In summary, on Instagram feeds, the algorithm would typically show a user posts from creators who create the kind of content they typically engage with, and who they have previously engaged with or tend to engage with frequently.  On reels and explore, Instagram goes further by showing users the content they think they will like based on their previous activity.

Stefanie explains it with a more straightforward example;

“I am coming up on the two million followers mark and one thing that is readily noticeable is that many of these followers found me because they initially followed other supermodels who do what I do. Likewise, when my followers consistently engage with my pictures and videos, they are also likely to see posts from similar creators who do what I do on their explore page or their reels. Now imagine what we can achieve as influencers if we become more intentional about giving and getting this exposure. The results are simply stunning.”

Collaboration as a Powerful Tool For Exposure

Since 2016, when Instagram made these changes to its algorithm, collaboration has become perhaps the most effective tool for exposure.  Creators collaborate in different ways, but the end goal is the same, and the results are similar.

Live broadcasts by Sponsored Influencers have become a thing. 82% of audiences prefer live video from influencers and brands to other generic content, which has made live videos both the present and the future of video content.

Since Instagram launched its new feature, which enables creators and users to go live with a friend remotely, influencers have used this feature to invite other creators on their platform for live broadcasts. Content ranges from talk shows to casual conversations, and the results have been favorable so far.

“Live videos have such an engagement boosting effect,” Stefanie explains. “The algorithms give live videos more exposure, so when influencers can link up via this feature, it helps the algorithm make the connection between their two sets of audiences. This can easily grow the platforms of both influencers by exposing them to new audiences.”

Hosting Account takeovers is another powerful collaborative tool that creators use to force the algorithm to give more exposure to their content.

An account takeover is a strategy where an influencer can surrender their account to another influencer for some time, either by posting only content from that influencer or giving the influencer access to their platforms to post directly.

The basic idea is to create a feeling that that influencer is in charge for that period. This is a powerful way that influencers use to expose their work and brands to other influencers’ audiences. The results are usually remarkable as the algorithm is forced to make that connection.

Collaborating with Aspiring Influencers is also becoming more popular. Stefanie recently launched the Baby G Mag, a subscription-based platform where other creatives can be featured and grow their own platforms.

She explains why she thinks this strategy is helpful; “With all the algorithm changes, it has become difficult to grow organically today than it was a few years ago. So, I built Baby G Mag specifically for other girls who want to grow their brand, make money, and can be seen by a guaranteed amount of paying customers. Right now we are collating with other magazines as well. Playboy Mexico has already seen us as an interesting platform to collaborate with in just our first few weeks.”

While many influencers are looking to connect with influencers with bigger platforms, Stefanie realizes that collaborating with up-and-coming influencers is a win-win. It exposes her to new audiences as these smaller influencers usually have a smaller but fiercely loyal audience. It is also her way of helping these influencers grow faster and gain more influence.

User-Generated Content (UGC) is also becoming stronger among influencers. 85% of users find visual UGC more influential than brand photos or videos. It also drives 6.9-times-higher engagement than generic content.

UGC is a form of collaboration that Influencers build with their followers. This is effective because followers tend to engage with UGCs at a higher rate. Since the algorithm gives more exposure to posts and platforms with more engagement, the Influencer’s platforms usually get seen way more. It’s a win-win for most influencers.

Influencer Pods are becoming robust as well. Some influencers have decided that the best way to link their audiences is to create pods of influencers. These pods usually have 10-15 influencers from within their industry who engage authentically with each other’s content; they share, like, and leave thoughtful comments on their most recent posts.

Many see pods as a way to skew the system and game the algorithm, but so far, no social media platform has cracked down on them yet.  Stefanie believes that collaboration in whatever shape or form it comes is the key to consistent growth as influencers;

“In my case, my fame didn’t necessarily come from social media, but I have been able to maintain it on social media by continuing with the things I became famous for. My merchandise, my videos, and my photos are what people value about my brand, and so I remain consistent. However, I also believe that helping others rise has helped me rise even more. Collaboration will probably always be a successful route to go even if the algorithms change again, because it is at the heart of what social media is trying to do, which is to connect people and to help people discover other relevant people. It’s a silver bullet by every standard.”

Stefanie’s points are valid; at the heart of most social media platforms is a desire to connect people and increase engagement. Their money-making structures are built around these same values. So it is likely that finding valuable ways to collaborate will always win in the end, and It’s difficult to have any problems with it whatsoever.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Annie Brown is the founder of Lips, a feminist technology organization at the forefront of the inclusive design movement, building products designed to unlock opportunities for previously underserved and

Source: Influencers Are Utilizing Collaboration To Win Against AI Algorithms; Here’s How

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Why Brands are Failing To Listen To Customers and How To Fix That

As terabytes of consumer data are collected every day, companies have more information than ever about their customers. But that doesn’t mean they understand what those customers need—or how best to serve them.

Without a clear understanding of what customers are experiencing, executives put their brands at risk, according to Andy MacMillan, CEO of UserTesting, which helps companies collect video feedback from their customers. As the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates, a company’s survival in challenging times often requires a strong, meaningful audience connection and swift action to meet customer needs.

So, what can companies do to more effectively tap into customer experiences and build lasting relationships? Here, MacMillan and Rick Reuter, a principal in the financial services industry practice for consultant Deloitte, discuss what’s preventing companies from listening to their customers, the importance of human connections, and how companies should be thinking about the customer experience post-COVID-19.

Companies have access to tons of customer information. So what are companies missing? Why isn’t that data enough?

Andy MacMillan: We’ve become really algorithm dependent. Data and algorithms are useful. But they also mean we aim for the average: What does the average buyer want? We don’t ever learn about the exceptions. It’s become very sterile, and I think we all sense and feel that. The challenge for companies is how to get real feedback from people outside the company, and how to use that feedback to put the team in the shoes of the customer.

How do companies get that real feedback from their customers?

MacMillan: I think you have to be deliberate about the idea that you can’t just stand entirely behind the technology. You have to decide it’s important for people in your company to talk to customers.

If you’re a bank, go out and get 10 or 15 people without deep technology backgrounds to walk you through what it’s like for them to bank online. Then we pull that video in-house and let the teams watch and see what it’s like to be that customer. Or for an airline, it means asking a premium flyer who is not very tech-savvy what it’s like to book travel for his or her family. How do you get your tech team to understand how to alleviate some of those flyer’s concerns, when your team is not the demographic we’re talking about? That’s the personal aspect I’m talking about that’s missing.

Rick Reuter: And sometimes it’s just having a real person pick up the phone. So, it’s not 15 menus of connecting through a call-center app. It’s “Hello, Mr. Reuter, how can we help you? We saw that you did this today. Is that what you’re calling about?”

How is COVID-19 changing the landscape for how companies are expected to interact with customers?

Reuter: I think companies now are getting more and more connected with the human experience than they have in the past decade, and I think it’s refreshing that we have this technology infrastructure to adapt quickly. We just need to continue to make that a priority.

MacMillan: The question, even six months ago, was “How do I squeeze out more margin for myself as a company?” Now for the first time in a while, we’re seeing companies actually thinking about customers and taking measures to keep us safe. This situation has caused us to go back to a time before we relied on the algorithms. We’re saying, “Hey, let’s go talk to some customers. Let’s find out what their needs are and figure out how to service those needs.” It’s a remarkably simple formula, but I would say that hasn’t been the heart of what we’ve been doing for the past decade.

When the COVID-19 crisis ends, what’s going to happen to these customer-centric changes? Will they continue? 

MacMillan: It’s going to be difficult for businesses to just snap back to the assumptions we had six months ago about how everything works.

One of the changes companies should keep is how they’ve empowered employees on the front lines. A coffee chain I go to, each [outlet] had different ways of implementing carryout-only procedures to keep people safe. It was very smart. It was like all the rules had been thrown out the window—instead of a uniform corporate policy, the company trusted employees to make some rational decisions on how to keep themselves safe, how to keep our customers safe, how to adapt to this unprecedented situation.

Reuter: That’s a culture where employees feel empowered and they feel ownership of the problem, which creates opportunity. I think that’s a great example of a large enterprise creating some local angles to be successful.

How can companies empower individual employees in a smart way?

MacMillan: It’s about culture and values. You hear front-line retail workers say, “I wish I could do the right thing more often for people.” And often it isn’t really about the money. It’s just trying to treat people the right way, trying to solve a problem in a restaurant, in a store, whatever that might be.

There’s also something to be said for hiring good people, conveying your shared values as a company and empowering those people to make good decisions in line with your values.

As companies rise to the challenges posed by COVID-19 and try to meet customer needs, what’s the biggest thing they can do to improve their listening?

MacMillan: I think the issue isn’t for or against technology. I think it’s how do we layer in perspective and actually care about the customer in an authentic way? We talk about an empathy gap, and what we mean by that is, it’s not like people go to work every day and don’t care about the customers; it’s that they don’t have the perspective. They don’t actually get to see these customers and talk to them to know that they’re not hitting the mark.

The lesson companies can take away from this crisis is the way it’s caused us to go, “Hey, wait. I need to find out what the customers really need, and then go figure it out.” And as customers, we’re delighted that they seem to care.

By:Taylor Smith for FastCo Works

Source: Why brands are failing to listen to customers—and how to fix that

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“Examining the Market Orientation-Performance Relationship: A Context-Specific Study” (PDF). Journal of Management. 24 (2): 201–233. doi:10.1177/014920639802400204. hdl:2027.42/68689. ISSN 0149-2063.

“Revisiting the relationship between marketing capabilities and firm performance: The moderating role of market orientation, marketing strategy and organisational power”

Godovykh, Maksim; Tasci, Asli D.A. (July 2020). “Customer experience in tourism: A review of definitions, components, and measurements”.

Tourism Management Perspectives. 35: 100694. doi:10.1016/j.tmp.2020.100694. ISSN 2211-9736. S2CID 219478840.

Pine, B. Joseph; Gilmore, James H. (2013).

“The experience economy: past, present and future“Welcome to the Experience Economy

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Godovykh, Maksim; Tasci, Asli D. A. (2020-05-26). “Satisfaction vs experienced utility: current issues and opportunities

Manning, Harley; Bodine, Kerry (28 August 2012). “The 6 Disciplines Behind Consistently Great Customer Experiences“Customer Experience Management: What it is and why it matters”

“Customer Experience Management Market Report, 2021-2028”.

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The Thriving Business of ‘Ikea Hacking’

Last August, Alex Hernandez found herself in the market for a new piece of furniture. Holed up in her Miami studio apartment, the 31-year-old executive assistant had grown weary of her “cheap and basic-looking” Ikea couch. She shopped around online and found a new one she liked — but it was a designer brand that was out of her price range.

So she opted for a makeover instead. She spiced things up with a set of mid-century modern legs ($70) and a new cover ($120) from an Ikea customization website. The project cost Hernandez about one-tenth of the designer version she’d had her eye on and it saved an old piece of furniture from the landfill.

This type of upcycling, called Ikea hacking, has been on the rise during the pandemic. And for companies that sell custom Ikea-friendly fixtures — legs, couch covers, knobs, and cabinet doors — business is booming.

What the heck is Ikea hacking?

Ikea has achieved the kind of scale and brand recognition that most companies can only dream of. With ~$44B in annual revenue, 445 retail stores, and 217k employees, the Sweden-based company is the world’s largest home furnishings retailer, enjoying a stranglehold on the ready-to-assemble furniture market.

In many countries, 50%+ of the population owns at least one Ikea product. In a way, Ikea is kind of like the Bitcoin of furniture: the company uses universal designs, meaning its hardware and measurements are uniform across most of the developed world.

And folks who want to add some pizzazz to their mass-produced Billy bookcases and Kallax shelf units have no shortage of customization options to choose from online. Broadly, Ikea hacking is any form of upgrading, customizing, repurposing, or personalizing a piece of stock Ikea furniture.

The movement gained steam in the mid-2000s, when popular DIY blogs like Ikea Hackers and Instructables began offering up easy, affordable tweaks to popular items like Billy bookcases and Kallax shelf units. At first, Ikea wasn’t a fan of people customizing its furniture and even sent Ikea Hackers a cease and desist. But since then, the company has embraced its hackers.

And over the past decade, this once small and wacky community has burgeoned into a full-fledged industry. Nearly every social media platform abounds with Ikea hacking content:

  • TikTok: 64m views on #ikeahacks videos
  • Instagram: 500k posts tagged with #Ikeahack
  • Facebook: hundreds of Ikea hacking groups with more than 1m collective members
  • YouTube: thousands of Ikea hack videos with 100m+ views
  • Pinterest: an endless scroll of DIY Ikea projects
  • Reddit: r/Ikeahacks boasts 76k subscribers and has grown 400% in the past 5 years

Within this broader ecosystem, certain Ikea products have earned a cult following in niche communities. Plant enthusiasts use Fabrikör cabinets to make their own indoor greenhouses. Photographers convert Schottis shades into DIY lightboxes. Parents transform Flisat tables into sensory stations for toddlers. Some have even crafted sex toys out of Ikea shoe trees and milk frothers.

In a survey of 1,206 readers of The Hustle, half of all respondents said they had heard of the concept of Ikea hacking — and 43% said they’d engaged in the practice at some point. In our survey, readers had no shortage of their own creative new uses for old Ikea furniture:

  • Jordan Elgie (musician, Ontario) turned an Ikea shelf into an electric guitar pedalboard.
  • Peter Sanderson (sales director, Rhode Island) converted an Ikea headboard into a dog gate for his Rottweiler puppy.
  • Randy Hees (museum director, Colorado) built a floor-to-ceiling library using 26 Ikea bookcases.
  • Rick Moore (film technician, Vancouver) transformed an Ikea butcher block cart into a wine rack.
  • Laurel Choate (literary agent, New York) made a kitchen island out of Ikea shelves, legs, and a countertop.

During the pandemic, an increase in remote work and time spent at home has led to a DIY remodel boom — and a surge in Ikea hacks. Among our respondents, 69% said they had bought new furniture during the pandemic, and 38% said they had updated an existing piece of furniture.

“We disassembled a cheap Ikea table, painted it a new color, and bought new legs to make it more mid-century modern,” says Zoë Kronovet, a digital marketing manager in North Carolina. “We also bought a $300 velvet midnight-blue cover for a basic Ikea couch to give it a new life.”

Like Kronovet, the majority of Ikea hackers stick to simple aesthetic changes: new knobs on a dresser, a new set of legs on a table, or new cabinet doors — little touches to shake things up. And they have no shortage of options to choose from.

The Ikea hacking industry

When on the hunt to revamp old Ikea wares, prospective customers often turn to a cottage industry of e-commerce startups — mostly female-owned — that specialize in Ikea customization:

  • Semihandmade, Reform: customization options for Ikea kitchens
  • Superfront, Norse Interiors: legs, hardware, and cabinet doors for an array of best-selling Ikea products
  • Prettypegs: legs for Ikea sofas, tables, and consoles
  • Kokeena: doors and casework for Ikea cabinets
  • Panyl: vinyl wraps for Ikea furniture
  • Bemz: covers for Ikea couches and chairs

On Etsy, you’ll find dozens of smaller companies hawking handmade legs, brass knobs, shelf inserts, and sofa covers specifically crafted to fit Ikea furniture lines.

Monica Born quit her copywriting gig 10 years ago to found Superfront with her husband Mick, after noticing that many of her friends in Sweden were commissioning their own pricey Ikea replacement doors from local carpenters.

In Sweden, where 90% of residents own Ikea furniture, she sensed an opportunity to streamline and normalize the customization process.Today, the business offers cabinet doors, handles, and legs compatible with Ikea’s 4 best-selling furniture lines.

Born says the company is on track to hit ~$8m in annual sales this year — a 50% bump from last year. “It’s becoming more and more [common] to tell your dinner guests that you repurposed something,” she says. “It’s cool to say, ‘We thought it was crazy to throw away that piece of Ikea furniture so we redesigned it instead.’”

Jana Kagin left a career in psychology to launch the Stockholm-based Ikea customizer Prettypegs in 2012. “Ikea is such a huge part of Sweden’s DNA — it’s in our breast milk,” she says. “But a lot of people want to differentiate from the mass-produced. We offer a more affordable option by pairing DIY with high-end design.”

As an example, she cites a customer who was able to reconstruct a $1.5k West Elm console for $288 using a set of Prettypegs legs ($60), knobs ($28), and a bit of DIY handiwork.

Demand is so high, she says, that it’s been hard to keep items in stock. “When we first started, we thought, ‘It’s just furniture legs, it’s not rocket science!’ But everything becomes rocket science as a business scales,” she says. “Logistics, hardware, packaging, lacquer, paint — there are so many moving parts that have strained supply chains right now.”

While many of these companies are based in Sweden, some entrepreneurs have found success focusing on the US market. Lotta Lundaas, the founder of Norse Interiors, based in New York City, says her company is on track to hit $1m in sales just 3 years after launching — a 3x increase year-over-year.

Lundaas leveraged her background as an online marketer to identify which Ikea products to offer custom cabinet doors for, reverse engineering the company’s best sellers by looking at search volume data.

The Copenhagen-based startup Reform has taken a different route. Launched in 2014 with the aim of customizing Ikea kitchen cabinets, the company has since moved into offering its own product lines. But it has trouble keeping its prices appealing to the Ikea demographic.

“It’s hard to match Ikea’s economies of scale,” says Scott Bird, the company’s managing director. “They sell some of their products at a price that’s lower than what we can even source them for.”

But these economies of scale come with a price.

An antidote to ‘fast furniture’

Beyond design, Ikea hacking aims to tackle a larger problem: the scourge of so-called “fast furniture.”

In the 1950s, furniture was seen as a generational investment that would last decades. Today, the average couch lasts just 6 years. Each year, Americans discard 20m tons of furniture — a figure that has doubled in the last decade.

Ikea — a company that uses 1% of the world’s entire wood supply and has encouraged customers to frequently replace furniture in the past  — is at the center of this problem.

Part of the stated mission of Ikea hacking, and the upcycling movement at large, is to extend the lifespan of furniture.

In its own independent research, Prettypegs found that a simple design change could result in a person keeping a piece of furniture 20% longer. The company estimates that it has helped customers hold on to 19k pieces of Ikea furniture, saving 179 tons of CO2 emissions.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their purchases: In our survey, 60% of respondents said eco-friendliness is an important consideration when buying home furnishings.

A report by the Retail Industry Leaders Association found that:

  • 93% of global consumers expect the brands they use to address and consider environmental issues
  • American consumers will spend up to 20% more on products that are environmentally friendly.

For its part, Ikea has announced buy-back programs and plans to be “climate positive” by 2030. But for consumers who already have a house full of Ikea furniture, a little redesigning and repurposing may be the greenest course of action.

“We’re all in the business of making Ikea products last longer,” says Cagin, of Prettypegs. “We want to turn fast furniture into slow furniture.”

 By: Zachary Crockett @zzcrockett

Source: The thriving business of ‘Ikea hacking’

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Critics:

IKEA is a conglomerate that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories, among other goods and home services. Founded in Sweden in 1943 by 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA has been the world’s largest furniture retailer since 2008. The brand used by the group is an acronym that consists of the founder’s initials, and those of Elmtaryd, the family farm where he was born, and the nearby village Agunnaryd (his hometown in Småland, southern Sweden).

The group is known for its modernist designs for various types of appliances and furniture, and its interior design work is often associated with an eco-friendly simplicity. In addition, the firm is known for its attention to cost control, operational details, and continuous product development that has allowed IKEA to annually lower its prices by an average of two to three percent.

INGKA Holding B.V., based in the Netherlands, owns the IKEA Group, which takes care of the centers, retails, customer fulfillment, and all the other services related to IKEA products. The IKEA brand is owned and managed by Inter IKEA Systems B.V., based in the Netherlands, owned by Inter IKEA Holding B.V. Inter IKEA Holding is also in charge of design, manufacturing and supply of IKEA products.

References

3 Initial Steps To Doing Your Own Public Relations and Getting Excellent Results

3 Initial Steps to Doing Your Own PR and Getting Excellent Results

It’s a classic symbiotic relationship. Entrepreneurs need exposure in the press and the media need information from brands to fill their pages. It should be a balanced partnership then yes? Well… not always. The problem comes when you’re simply not giving the media what they can use, i.e. what’s of interest to their particular readers.

Often this is down to not understanding how journalists work and what they want, but also it can be down to laziness on the part of inhouse or agency PRs who persist in sending mass mailouts to already overserved press.

You may not believe it, but It’s actually surprisingly easy to be featured in the press. And you don’t have to have budgets large enough to employ the services of a PR agency which can easily cost £5 to £10K plus a month plus disbursements (expenses) just for the most basic of services.

You just need to follow the following steps.

1. Select the media titles your potential and existing audience actually reads.

How?  Well, try taking a sample of your social media followers and have a look at what media they are following. That’s an easy start. And don’t be afraid to pop a post up asking them to name or even vote for their favourite titles too.

Also conduct a simple Google search for media titles that reach your existing and potential customers and industry sector.

There are professional media databases which you can use to compile media lists but these can be expensive. If your budget is tight you could consider buddying up with another entrepreneur and splitting the cost.

Be reassured though, it’s really not about the AMOUNT of titles you target, but targeting the RIGHT ONES – i.e. the media that’s actually consumed by your target audience (you of course need to have defined this first).

Think beyond just national newspapers and magazines too. Consider TV and radio programmes, podcasts, social media influencers, smaller local/regional titles. And also titles that might not at first seem an obvious choice. For example, if you have a food or drinks brand, depending on its type and price points, you could consider wellness titles, health & fitness titles, luxury lifestyle blogs, TV programmes with a focus on nutrition or weight loss, parenting titles, supermarket magazines.

Don’t stick your nose up at these – most, including Waitrose’s monthly magazine actually have amazing reach, a fantastic reputation, wonderful production values and loyal readers.  And in the UK, Asda’s magazine has one of the highest circulations and readerships of all print titles.

2. Find the contact details of the best person to approach.

What you also need to do, is find the names and email addresses of the best editors and journalists to actually contact.

This again isn’t as hard as you may think. Most publications have what we call in the trade, a “flannel panel,” AKA a section in the magazine, often near the front, which details all the staff and their roles. On websites it’s usually under About Us or Contact Us.

Look through these and find the journalist or editor responsible for the content that’s the best fit for your product or service. You can also go on to the media title’s publisher’s website and often find contacts there.

And LinkedIn can be another great source – here you can often find email addresses too and if you are a Premium member, reach out direct too. Failing this, a quick phone call to reception will usually reap rewards.

Bear in mind, Editors and Editor’s in Chief aren’t always the best initial contacts to approach because they typically get inundated with emails and requests. It’s often better to find the details of the staff journalists covering the content most relevant to you and approaching them. Larger publications have what’s called “Commissioning Editors” and these are the people to pitch in to. Usually they deal with journalists pitching in, but there’s no harm in you doing this do. I’ll be covering how to pitch well in another article so look out for this.

It’s worth considering targeting the title’s website editorial staff as well as those in the magazine or newspaper as it’s often much easier to get content picked up for online use as there’s unlimited space, whereas a magazine only has a finite number of pages available per issue.

Don’t forget about freelance journalists too – these can be a fantastic way in. Twitter, LinkedIn – both can be very useful sources here. Start to follow #journorequest on Twitter and you’ll see what journalists are seeking, and responding to this can be an excellent, not to mention free, way of connecting to and building relationships with journalists.

3. Provide content they will want to use.

How do you know what information to give your chosen media? The first step is to be really clear on exactly what topics they cover.  It’s pretty straightforward to discover this – look at the content they already use, across as many of their media platforms as you can. Observing the regular content categories they have is quick way to gauge what’s called their “editorial pillars,” the key content their publication carries. By this I mean look at the primary content headings on a website, or contents’ page in a magazine. Hashtags they use on their socials can be a handy clue, too.

The second step is to look at the format of this content – length, tone – is it informal and friendly or more authoritative and serious, and if it tends to be more text led or image heavy. Also note if the content is typically presented as an interview, or a first person column, “Editor’s Pick,” a listicle (i.e. a Top 10 kind of piece) – this kind of thing.

By now you will know what topics they cover and in what style. Step three is to decide what information you want to communicate to these readers, that matches this, and pitch this in to the journalist or editor – or package into a press release. Do consider media titles always prefer to carry unique content – not information that’s been offered and taken up by their rivals, so you will need to create pitches and press releases that are tailored.

Pitches and press releases are usually sent as a simple, short email. I will cover creating these in detail in articles to follow, but essentially you need to communicate what your story is (the topic and specific angle), why it’s right for that title and is newsworthy for publication now – all in the most interesting way as possible.

It’s an art to make your pitches or press releases stand out for the right reasons when a journalist could receive hundreds of these a week, but, with some guidance and practice there’s no reason why you won’t be able to craft these as well as a PR agency and reap the considerable rewards press exposure can bring.

By: Lisa Curtiss / Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Source: 3 Initial Steps to Doing Your Own PR and Getting Excellent Results

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Critics:

Public relations (PR) is the practice of deliberately managing the release and spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public in order to affect the public perception. Public relations (PR) and publicity differ in that PR is controlled internally, whereas publicity is not controlled and contributed by external parties.

Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. This differentiates it from advertising as a form of marketing communications. Public relations aims to create or obtain coverage for clients for free, also known as earned media, rather than paying for marketing or advertising. But in the early 21st century, advertising is also a part of broader PR activities.

An example of good public relations would be generating an article featuring a PR firm’s client, rather than paying for the client to be advertised next to the article. The aim of public relations is to inform the public, prospective customers, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders, and ultimately persuade them to maintain a positive or favorable view about the organization, its leadership, products, or political decisions.

Public relations professionals typically work for PR and marketing firms, businesses and companies, government, and public officials as public information officers and nongovernmental organizations, and nonprofit organizations. Jobs central to public relations include account coordinator, account executive, account supervisor, and media relations manager.

Public relations specialists establish and maintain relationships with an organization’s target audience, the media, relevant trade media, and other opinion leaders. Common responsibilities include designing communications campaigns, writing press releases and other content for news, working with the press, arranging interviews for company spokespeople, writing speeches for company leaders, acting as an organization’s spokesperson, preparing clients for press conferences, media interviews and speeches, writing website and social media content, managing company reputation (crisis management), managing internal communications, and marketing activities like brand awareness and event management.

Success in the field of public relations requires a deep understanding of the interests and concerns of each of the company’s many stakeholders. The public relations professional must know how to effectively address those concerns using the most powerful tool of the public relations trade, which is publicity.

Specific public relations disciplines include:

  • Financial public relations – communicating financial results and business strategy
  • Consumer/lifestyle public relations – gaining publicity for a particular product or service
  • Crisis communication – responding in a crisis
  • Internal communications – communicating within the company itself
  • Government relations – engaging government departments to influence public policy
  • Media relations – a public relations function that involves building and maintaining close relationships with the news media so that they can sell and promote a business.
  • Social Media/Community Marketing – in today’s climate, public relations professionals leverage social media marketing to distribute messages about their clients to desired target markets
  • In-house public relations – a public relations professional hired to manage press and publicity campaigns for the company that hired them.
  • ‘Black Hat PR’ – manipulating public profiles under the guise of neutral commentators or voices, or engaging to actively damage or undermine the reputations of the rival or targeted individuals or organizations.

See also

 

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