Thursday, September 30, 2010

Post-recession marketing towards a mindful customer

After a turbulent time, Millward Brown can see a change in how people shop. This is parts of the report "Post-recession Marketing: Addressing a New, More Mindful Consumer"

"Many people stopped finding joy in excessive consumption and heedless spending, and a new trend, which I call "mindful consumption," emerged. Mindful consumption is demonstrated by consumers buying fewer products and fewer brands, and being more considered in their choices.

I expect mindful consumption to eventually affect all global markets — even the emerging ones — because it represents more than just a response to the present crisis. It is a response to the idea that happiness can be purchased. As mindful consumers, people are increasingly challenging this assumption.

"People are relying less on brands for gratification or status and are now factoring other values into their choices. These include their own moral principles, their loyalties to their local communities, and their sense of responsibility for the environment.

Today brands need to position themselves against consumer needs as well as against competitive brands."

Are Millward Brown right? I agree on the importance of brands meeting deep needs - especially emotional - in the market. But I think that the need of happiness is such a need and that is why we have been consuming like mad the last decades, and will keep on doing so. I believe people were holding back a bit while losing jobs and money, but that this is no evidence for the development MB are claiming is happening. People are still depressed and confused, and they still see things as short term relief and symbols for values. Nothing has replaced that, which means it´s still there. The only difference was that we during recesion couldn´t afford retail therapy. MB might be on to something, but hardly in this report.What do you think?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Is this the end of good times?

I am turning 37 in a couple of weeks, and I have to reflect on how different my life would have been if I had been born in another time. If I was born in early 1800´s when life expectancy was 38, I guess I would have been preparing for my final words now instead of a party. If I was born in early 1900´s I could expect another 15 years, but I would probably have been both a mum and a grand mum instead of living like a teenager down the beach.  

Sometimes we forget how powerful capitalism has been, and what kind of miracles innovative ideas and research has blessed us with. I´m a fan of healing and Chinese medicine, but Western pills and machines have for sure made us all survive illness and germs, in a way healing and medicine men ever could.
For brand managers and business developers, this means there is a rich, healthy bunch to provide with all sorts of things. Babyboomers = money, money...  
For politicians and influential people it shows the importance of keeping up with innovation, and not move backwards just because it seems like we are on top of the world now. I want my eventual offspring to be able to feel young at 37 as well.
But I am worried, as alternative health options are getting more popular, politicians are protective and closed, and level of innovation and productivity is decreasing. Is this as good as it gets? I hope not.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

More Aussies are well educated but stuck in old ways

BRW writes this week that the national education level has risen, with the number of people with higher education qualifications hitting 63% by 2009, from 49% in 1999, ABS figures show.

This is great, considering that the same magazine reports that Australia has much lower workforce producticity than other countries, and it´s getting worse. A representant for OECD analysed the situation "Education, infrastructure and innovation are the weak links in the economy" and "Part of the problem is that Australia has been a high-growth economy and has done well through the financial crisis, which has led to a complacent attitude towards longer-term challenges."

As coming from overseas, getting into the Australian market, I can see why this is. I sense a fear of new perspective and experiences. A lot of people are desperately protecting their positions, with an arrogant attitude, not answering emails, not calling back, only valuing Australian experience. It´s all based on fear, and I understand and feel for them. But with only 5% unemployment and lack of innovation, this country is in desperate need on new perspectives, and I wish for boldness and courage. A rise in education is not enough. If a change is not to come, I am sorry but Australia´s future is not looking good.

HR departments could start by buying my book "The Joy Gym" for their staff, to open for creativity and a successful attitude... Order from me:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bye bye travel agents - Internet does your job in the future, unless...

According to the June 2010 Roy Morgan "Travel Agent Brand Health and Holiday Booking Trends Report", the Internet (38.2%) has become the most popular source of information used by Australians to help choose their overseas holiday destination. The report shows that the growing use of the Internet as an information source for overseas holidays is paralleled by a decline in the use of Travel Agents, especially in the last 18 months.
This is what happens when service providers are stuck in old patterns. I have never got any help to understand my destination when visiting travel agents; all they do is to tap my details into their computers and compare prices. Not very advanced... What if they had seen they were in danger and created seminars, information sheets and other extras to keep the customer... Now they are fading away... Act fast, or bye bye...
Other travel trends I found when searching the web:
SUPER low budget, Whole body scanners, China, India and Gulf States are the new hotspots, Luxury and adventure, Eco-travelling, Faith tourism, Medical tourism, A la carté airlines, Overweight pays for 2 seats, Zero-star hotels, Couch surfing, Cheap chic living, Boutique B&Bs, Upmarket all-inclusives, Eco luxe, Mixing business with pleasure'Bleisure', Traincations, Flashpacking, Granny chic, Family-friendly hip hotels, Quiet sections on planes, Volunterism, Glamping

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Frozen youghurt war in Bondi Beach

This season two new frozen yoghurt shops have opened on Hall st in Bondi beach, and the war has begun for the three shops we have now. Free yoghurt for everyone; I just had a strawberry coconut. Awesome. Is this a trend in the rest of the world as well? And, will free samples really build brand loyalty? Don´t think so, but I wouldn´t tell. Keep them coming :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Obamas fear of sodium makes Pepsi, Kraft and Kellogs act

Forget fat free. What customers want in the next few years is sugarfree and SODIUM free. In Us more products are now turning sodium reduced, according to the Economist. Pepsi has goals to lower sodium content in its drinks with 25% by 2015. Kraft has promised to reduce sodium content in North American products with 30% by 2012.

The American Congress is talking about regulation, Michelle Obama is targeting child obesity, so PepsiCo, Kraft, Kellogg and others have set up a body called the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation to act before they are forced to. In May this coalition promised that by 2015 it would cut 1.5 trillion calories a year from the American market.

Remember though that the sodium reduction is a result of politicians being concerned. Even if 90 % of Americans say they care about health, is this what they want? The Economist writes: "Over the past 20 years, according to Harry Balzer of NPD, a research firm, the main shift in American eating habits has been from foods that must be prepared (such as pot roast and peas) to those that are convenient (such as pizza and frozen sandwiches). Kraft may be investing in healthy foods—more than half of its new products in the past year were in the “health and wellness” category. But the company is also energetically marketing an expanded line of Macaroni & Cheese."

A schizofrenic market, for sure...

Salt contains about 40 per cent sodium. Common food additives, such as baking soda, some preservatives, and monosodium glutamate (MSG), also contribute to the total amount of sodium we consume.

Facebook - a trend no one could predict and no one can control

This morning I woke up to the news "Facebook is down in Australia", and my heart stopped for a second. Last night a friend told me his FB account had been deactivated without his permission, and that made me realise how stupidly addicted I and many others are, and how much information I keep there that I don´t have anywhere else. I don´t have emails and phone numbers to all my friends; FB is my virtual individual phonebook! When I go back to Sweden I post it on my wall, to get coffee dates with all my friends. That´s just how you communicate nowadays. And I didn´t really start using my account until 2007, at 34 years of age. Trends move fast and quickly becomes normality. So is FB a fling when looking back on it, or is the world committed for long term?

Some facts:
  • More than 500 million active users
  • 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
  • More than 70 translations available on the site
FB is now up and running again, which embarrassingly enough gives me a feeling of relief. I was lost for a while but now I´m found...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ad Trend shows how confused men are about who they are

A few weeks ago vb beer launched their beer campaign for men who don´t wear handcream, as a reaction towards metrosexuality. Now a new typ of man, inspired by Mad Men, is spotted by a journo in Newsweek.

"Men in television advertising are often portrayed as barely sentient morons, emasculated husbands, or literate cavemen.  So in other words, according to many of my friends of the fairer sex, accurately.  But over the last couple of years, any couch potato worth his bacon can't help but notice Madison Avenue has taken a few baby steps toward the old-school masculinity we like to think our fathers exhibited when they were splashing on the Hai Karate and letting their chest hair flourish. Maybe it's the nostalgic influence of Mad Men. But the problem in current advertising is that a lot of these commercials--and by implication society--still can't agree on the male ideal. That's where I come in. After thousands of hours of watching TV and surfing YouTube over the past year, I've culled half a dozen commercials or campaigns that illustrate as a group the mostly sorry--but mildly hopeful--state of men in advertising today." Read the article here:

The popular Old Spice commercial:

But HANG ON! When do we ever talk about the female identity? What is a woman today? We are still talked about when it comes to body image and being used as objects in ads for LYNX etc... But the true identity of a woman? As a human being, with interest beyond being pretty and a good mum?

Online dating is the way to meet nowadays

The first company to bring  classified ads to the web was founded in 1993. launched in  April 1995, and in 6 months, 100 000 people had signed up.  Today 17 the site has million paying users in 30 countruies and in 8 languages. Apparently one in 6 marriages are today a result of online dating. I´ve been giving it a go - have you? Will anyone meet in real life ten years ahead? Will we even have real relationships?

Source Newsweek

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Internet makes people happy - gives freedom & control

A new study from BCS (former British Computer Society) found that Internet access improves the overall well-being of lower-income users, those with less education and women — particularly those in developing countries — by giving them a sense of freedom and control over their lives.
Internet has changed our lives. Unlimited access to information, connection with friends, room to express ourselves and now... happiness! I sent my first email in 1994-95 sometime, and was sooo excited (and scared) about words travelling so fast. And look at us now. Hundreds of emails in my in and outboxes every day. In another 15 years, who will I email? Probably no one. Apparently emails are already out of fashion, and Gen Y and Z think they are passé. Internet is not a digital version of the postcard; it´s something new.
Plus it makes us happy, and gives everyone a change. Love it (I am a woman, so that validates the study :)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mobile internet usage doubled in a year

The 15th annual Sensis e-business Report revealed that mobile internet usage has almost doubled in the past year as Australians turn to their phones to access the internet rather than a PC.
Australians are most commonly accessing the mobile web at work or at home (both 42%), followed by when they are in transit (30%) and when they are out and about (10%).
The most popular activities Australians are using mobile internet for are looking for maps and directions (67%), checking the weather (64%), browsing news sites (59%) and checking social networks (56%).

Top tech gadgets 2011 - what are we buying next?

US-based online gadget store has produced its list of the top 10 gadget trends for next year. For the full article, explaining every one of the trends, go to:

1: Blu-ray
2: HD gadgets will grow in popularity.
3: 3D television will not gain as much traction as their developers would like
4: Projectors (home)
5: Google Android
6: Tablet Computers will gain in popularity
7: Solid State Drives will increase in prominence
8: Energy efficient gadgets
9: Apps!
10: Streaming multimedia and interconnected devices

I´m waiting for a laptop/tablet you can use out doors, when the sun is shining and you wish to work on the beach (sand protection plz)! I want battery charging centrals where you can have a coffee and charge while out on town. I also want pretty TV´s with a girlie look. What else...? A phone that stops you from ringing certain numbers after drinking? Or what if I could pay my coffee with my phone, and even make the order in the restaurant? What do you wish for?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shopping charity: Individual food shows our personality and values

When The Food Channel predicted the top ten trends for 2010. one of them wass the individuality trend; today we want food in small pieces, to always get something for ourselves. 

"Blame the cupcake, which brought attention to the individual dessert trend, but people are now casting about for the next cupcake. Expect more attention to the individual, but it’s not just about portion size—it’s also about food that reflects personality."

I think the "reflect your personality" part is interesting, especially in a broader sense than fashion, color or taste. More companies are caring about caring, so that we as consumers can show our deep values through our purchase. It´s ethical, ecological, organic, and on the weekend I met an entrepreneur who runs Zambrero mexican restaurants, with a policy "buy one burrito, feed one child". For every burrito sold they donate money to kids in need. Great thinking!

For brands who want to get on the bandwagon, I´d suggest making the "good" choice visible, so that the buyer can show others that they bother. We want the food to represent our personality, and we want it to be official! Produce pretty carry bags, stickers, big signs. This will also remind people of their positive choice, making them feel good.

Don´t just let people donate their change at the cashier as Cotton On does - if we are going to pay more, the feeling of being "good" has to last for a while. Shopping charity can only become big if it´s bold.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

TREND: Make it easy to be green and win the customer´s heart

One of the 2010 trends predicted by Trendwatching was: "Eco-Easy: Time-strapped consumers want to be ecologically conscious but don’t want to expend time or effort in doing so, creating a market for products and services that make it easy to be “green.”

Yesterday I met a young man who runs a business selling organic clothes for the work place (uniforms and so on), which is an excellent example of the trend eco-easy. This guy had managed to find a cheap deal on good quality shirts, which made the eco choice even easier, and he told me that organic clothes last much longer, since chemicals tear down the fabric when washed. Hmm. Good stuff! Both a rational and an emotional choice.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Founder of Boost Juice: Why research will make you rich

Founder of Boost Juice about the hit Angus burgers:
"McDonalds took a core product, took notice of a gourmet burger trend in the market, did the research, took a risk and ramped up the quality and price. The result? McDonalds increased its average transaction and regained some lost gourmet customers, put brand points in its bank and I would say some extra profit. So the key is don´t try to recreate the wheel – finding the next great innovation almost always is a mutation of an existing product or service. Back up your instincts with customer research and take a calculated risk. Take something consumers love and are used to, then niche out a core desire the product has, multiply it by 10 and make it your hero brand essence and you could be on to a winner. Key essence: Don´t be better - be different in one key attribute."
From Janine Allis who sold 65 % of her juice business for A$65 million... Mixed quotes from BRW column.
This is how sparkling entrepreneurs create the future! Idea, research, success... How can you be one of them? Today 400 gen Y brains are meeting for Unconvention in Sydney, to present their ideas for investors. I´ll rock up later, in harem pants and a t-shirt. Hmm. Not selling any business ideas, just getting inspired by their brilliant minds. 

Friday, September 17, 2010

What a mobile phone looked like in "Wall Street" 1987

This THING is what Michael Douglas was using to communicate in 1987 when the movie "Wall Street" hit the screens the first time around. Now it is time again, and wow how things have changed. Today the mobile phone is mainstream and we are all addicted to it. My phone was dead for 5 minutes last night and I panicked!! 
One in four think their smartphones ”feels like an extension of their brain or body”, according to a study from Stanford University. 250 million text messages per month sent in Australia.
 The first hand held phone was demonstrated in 1973, using a handset weighing in at two kilos.
 I wonder how the world will communicate in another 20 years ahead, when Wall Street 3 may be out... Will we finally get that chip in our ear or learn telepathy?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

How Australians have got it better the last decade

The new data ABS released today:

  • Health: During the past decade Australia's health improved - children born in 2009 were expected to live two to three years longer than those born in 1999.

  • Education and training: During the past 10 years, the Australian population became more educated - between 1999 and 2009 the proportion of people with a vocational or higher education qualification rose from 49% to 63%.

  • Work: Despite the recent economic downturn, Australia's annual average unemployment rate was lower in 2009 (5.6%) than in 1999 (6.9%).

  • National income: Australia experienced significant real income growth during the past decade. Between 1998-99 and 2008-09, real net national disposable income per capita grew by 2.6% a year.

  • National wealth: National wealth, as measured in Australia's balance sheet, grew over the last decade. Real national net worth per capita increased by about 0.9% a year between June 1999 and June 2009.

  • Household economic wellbeing: In the decade to 2007-08, the real average household income of low income Australians grew by 41%.
  • Aussies have the overseas fever - passports popular

    The domestic tourism industry is suffering. In times when the Australian dollar is strong as the Hulk, lots of Aussies go instead overseas for leisure and pleasure. Better see the world, when it´s for sale... 

    49% Aussies now has a passport, an increase of 16% over the previous year (2009-10), and outbound trips have doubled in ten years. Departures are forecast to increase by 13% to 7.1 million in 2010. Expected growth: 4% a year 2009-2019. 70 % of babyboomers are planning to go overseas when they retire.

    According to National Visitors Survey, the most popular destinations are NZ (16%), Usa and Canada (11%), Indonesia (9%) and Uk (7%).

    So Australia are losing the Australian market to the world, making it hard for the local tourism industry. Upon that Japan is a country in deep financial trouble, making the Japanese tourists who normally visit The Gold Coast, stay at home.

    One domestic sector that is growing though, is day trips, that are back in fashion after a down period. This is good news for restaurants, shops and the domestic airlines who can take us back and forth in no time. IBISWorld has predicted a boom for the industry next year, with 9 % increased revenue. 92 % of baby boomers want to travel around Australia during their retirement, according to ANZ.

    How can your brand benefit from the fact that Aussies are becoming more international? How can you attract the day trip crowd?

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    More women on board - Virgin Blue & UGL trend setters

    I went to a conference on the weekend to see some great speakers. But where were the ladies? I think the event organizer definitely could have found women of the same caliber as Tony Robbins, Richard Branson and Mark Bouris, but did they even try? On stage came instead one average man after the other…

    Australia is a macho society, especially compared to Sweden, where I grew up. But things are changing, and I predict it will happen quickly once it´s started. We have now females on several important positions – prime minister, premier of NSW, Governor-General… And good news right now is that the corporate giants on the stock market are starting to use the female resource.  In 2010, 36 women have been appointed to S&P/ASX 200 boards, compared with only 10 in 2009 and 10 % of company board positions are now held by women, which is much to be Australia.
    I don´t think women should be appointed just because they are women, but because women are just as intelligent as men, and that companies are missing out if they close the door for females. Women are just as educated, just as experienced and we can upon that bring on another perspective, being more intuitive and focused on relationships – traits that are valuable in a market.
    Brands are often told to target women since they are in power of most family spending. Men bring in the bucks, women decide where to spend them… But tapping into the female energies on leading positions is another thing. Don´t bring a girl on board to attract girl´s as customers. The power of women is valuable for both genders, and this will change the dynamics of Australian work places, increasing productivity in a new softer way.
    When will Tony and Richard say NO to a conference without female speakers? It´s time to react.
    To read my book about Life Liberalism (2004), a libertarian view on non political threats to freedom and individuality, click here: (in Swedish)

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    How do you sell to baby boomers?

    "Businesses need to be attuned to the huge demographic changes that will drive damand. We are now standing at the start of one of the biggest demographic changes of the era as millions of baby boomers move into their cashed-up retirement looking to enjoy this phase of their life now work is over and the kids have left home."

    Kate Mills, Editor BRW

    Supré - not a winner in emotional branding

    From the article:
    "I am continuously stunned by the lack of emotional intelligence in marketing. Too many companies use the heart to allure their customers. They say “You’ll love me” and expect to get loved. McDonalds say “I’m lovin it”. Tooheys New says “For the love of beer”, Priceline says “This is why you will love this club card”.

    In my job as a love coach I help people find their inner strength, confidence and happy attitude, to be able to succeed when dating or building a family. I help those who have failed for years to learn new strategies to suddenly improve their emotional relationships.

    In my eyes, the campaigns screaming out “You will love me”, are acting exactly as the desperate and clumsy person who can not get neither a date nor a relationship. And in the same way as I help people connect by being emotionally smart, I now want to help organisations and companies to find and keep their friends on the market."

    Knowing how we move is important if you wish to connect with your customers on an emotional level. When you know what kind of world they live in and how their mind works you will be able to meet deep needs, and get loyal friends on the market.

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Organic grows like weed - this is why

    Organic food is stepping into the fridges of normal people. According to a new TV ad from Wollworths own brand Macro, organic food is no longer hippie. It´s for the man in suit

    IBISWorld predicts that organic food is one of the ten industries of the future, and even if the market share is low (I read in Time last week that only 3% of the food sold in Us is organic), the market share is growing in the Western World. With 15 % this year, according to an article in BRW. That´s a lot.

    I´d say this is why:

    The drivers behind the boom is of course health concerns, since organic is proven to be more nutricional according to research, but other factors are also affecting. Another trend in line with this is the boost in alternative health, that I reported about a week ago.

    We will soon see a huge group of baby boomers, stepping out of the work force, ready to rock´n´roll, and they will do that in style. They have money enough to pay a little extra, and organic is seen as a "posh" alternative today, rather than a hippie choice. Organic is probably also making people feel as if they care; it gives them an identity of being aware of the health of the globe. This is both an intrinsic and an extrinsic value.

    Another driver is our need of transparency. The Internet revolution has made every person a besser wisser, full of information and answers to everything, collected from their ipods. We know what is good, and will not accept massive brands producing food in suspicious ways.

    Information overload is also creating an elitism in the food market, where we wish to separate us from others, and have our own style. Just as people in Greenland has 1000 words for snow, the more we know about food, the more aware we become about differences - and we want what suits US. So, the more organic sold and shown on the shelves, the larger the demand.

    How will you use this knowledge? We are just in the beginning of the organic revolution, and the market is warming up. It´s getting safe for brands to sell the healthy, cool alternative. Where is McDonalds? Where is Coke? The big brands have always been slow in adapting to the new trends (just recently stepping into the gourmet trend for example...), but you can get in there now. And leverage.

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Get ahead of the curve by researching people´s feelings, says Mark Bouris

    I listened to fabulous Mark Bouris from The Apprentice at a conference yesterday. He pointed out that the key to success in business is "looking for signs", which allows you to "know before you get there, and to get ahead of the curve." He was also strong in his opinion that most economics don´t spend enough time to investigate how people feel. "You can´t control the circles in business, but you need to know how to manage them", he said, and one way was to research and sense the meaning of now, to understand the movements of the future.

    This is what my book "Love Branding" is about; it talks about the value of emotional connections to attain customer love, and that without understanding of human behaviour you will not be able to connect with anyone´s feelings. More about the book on

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Second hand furniture at IKEA to save the planet

    On Aug. 28, the Swedish furniture giant began selling second-hand IKEA products online in Sweden. IKEA claims this fit with the company's environmentally-friendly ethos. "It is about taking an environmental responsibility for how our products are used in the longer term and making it easier for our customers to do their part for their responsibility towards the environment," says a representative for the brand.
    Drivers behind this trend is obviously that people care about the environment, but also that they care about their financial state. I would also say that it is a way for the brand to show that it is innovative and in line with time, doing new things, stretching their mind.

    Read more:

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Sugar under attack - fat-free is not enough to save us

    In Australia, diet concerns are mostly about fat. Products are "98 % fat free" and buying them makes people feel healthy. But this is about to change. Now it is time to attack the sugar content as well. Is The Heart Foundation Tick is about to target sugar as dangerous for your health and heart? Channel 7 ran a story about it this morning, which is a powerful start.

    So far, the tick has been rewarded to products high in sugar. Nestle’s Fruit Fix Bars proudly bear the Heart Foundation tick but are around 72% sugar. However a tick-free Mars Bar is only 58% sugar. Others: Nestle’s Billabong Ice Blocks (23% sugar), Nestle’s B-Smart Milo (32% Sugar), Kellogg’s K-Time Twist Bars (38% sugar), and Nestle’s Nesquik Plus (60% sugar). (from a blog)

    Back in Sweden we had a huge sugar debate more than 5 years ago, which led to a reduced sugar content in all sorts of products, but here in Australia cereals, yoghurts and drinks are still packed with the sweet treat. I believe that is about to change, and it will hit hard for brands that avoid changing their content when consumers are becoming aware of the dangers of a high sugar diet. Brands that step up first and offer alternatives will be rewarded.

    More people suffer from diabetes, more people are over weight, more people have sleeping problems... A lot of them think the solution is energy drinks or vitamin waters (”NewAge drinks” like functional water, tea drinks and energy drinks grew three times faster than the total beverage market over the last 4 years.) but that is because we don´t know what the real problem is.

    There is a large gap on the market for low-sugar products. Go fill it.

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    More smiles in Australian work places in the future, bc it pays off

    Exciting new research shows that executives who laugh during their job interview obtain larger bonuses one year later. The size of their bonuses correlated positively with the use of humour during the interviews, according to a study from Hay Group, presented in BRW.

    Why? When you are laughing your body relaxes, your endorphins are flowing and you associate laughter with other fun times, which makes you even happier. Smiles break down barriers between colleagues and business partners. When you are not stressed you are much more imaginative, memory works better and it´s easy to make decisions. People who laugh more are also easier to work with.

    This may be why Australia is ranked so low when it comes to innovation.

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics´ survey of innovation in Australia 2006-2007 found that of the 708,000 businesses surveyed only 260,544 (or 36.8%) were “active innovators”, well below the European averages of 55-60%.

    The World Economic Forum‟s Global Competitiveness Report from 2008-09 showed that Australia lags behind in terms of business management and innovation capabilities, writes SKE. For example, in the "capacity for innovation" category, Australia ranks number 20 whilst Germany comes in at number 1, with the Scandinavian countries following close thereafter.

    Being a Scandinavian, I can see why this is. Innovation is born in a comfortable, happy space where people feel safe to think freely, but the Australian work places seem to have clear, steep ladders to climb, and everyone keeps quiet to not fall down. In Sweden, the organizations are more flat and we listen to everyone. After speaking with Europeans now employed in Australia, I hear that many managers are dishonest and don´t give proper feedback. They say "great" but talk behind your back - or don´t give any feedback at all, making everyone scared. The comments on my ninemsn column on how companies should care about people´s love lives are also interesting. And when I told a company I blogged about that I had helped them spread the word, I got back "there is a typo in the first sentence"... Hmm. The Australian culture is definitely built up by macho style fear, instead of trust, which effectively kills creativity and innovation. The low ranking makes sense.

    But I can smell a change. That a business magazine like BRW presents research showsing how executives leverage financially when smiling is a sign. In the last issue there were also several articles talking about happiness, which is another sign. I believe the movement towards women in leading positions will also change the management style all over. The culture is losening up.

    Tuesday, September 7, 2010

    Who did you text ten years ago...?

    Have you sent anyone a text message today? I assume that you have, and if you haven´t, you most likely will during the day. But imagine how it was just ten years ago? I was 27 years old and even if I owned a mobile phone, I didn´t text very much. It was just in the beginning of our new sms obsessed time...

    The very first sms was sent from a computer in 1992. Now, in 2010 there are 250 million text messages sent every month in Australia and media talks about how teenagers suffer from text addiction sending up to 120 a day. Texting builds and ruins relationships, is a way to connect easily, but also to be too impulsive. It has for sure affected our way of communicating, not just in a technical way. We come closer, yet further apart.

    So ten years ago having a cell phone was pretty cool and we were getting used to sending emails. But imagine another ten years back in time... According to futurist Craig Rispin, there are more emails sent every minute today than in whole 1994...

    With this in mind, realise the importance of keeping your ear to the ground, researching what the future has to offer and what kind of changes that will affect us all. How will future generations behave, think and connect? Don´t get surprised; be in charge. Let me know if you want to know.

    Monday, September 6, 2010

    Rise in alternative health care

    Australians are getting more keen on alternative medicine. Over the past decade, the proportion of Australians who have paid for alternative health services has increased from 7.2% to 9.5%, according to new research from Roy Morgan. 12 % of women have seeked help for their health problem outside the traditional system.

    Has the hospitals failed in helping us? Are we seriously sick, and desperately bailing the hospital ship to find a cure? Hmm. Let´s face it: We actually live longer than humans ever had, and are healthier - but it still doesn´t make us happier.

    Is the increase showed in the graph just another signal of how we try to find happiness through physicalities, materialism and things? Instead of going inside to change our attitudes, we want a pill or a potion. I haven´t found data on how Australians seek medical care overall; perhaps numbers are increasing there as well; perhaps this is a symptom of a time where we try to be perfect and flawless, and every sneeze becomes a flu? Or is our need of health services a call out for care, for someone to listen to and touch us? Is it a "I want to be loved" in disguise? For women, is this a way for the one who always care for everyone else, to finally get a healing hand....?

    No matter what, there is an openness for brands to be care takers, selling nutricious varieties of their food and drinks, offering services and therapy, pampering. See the craving for alternative health as a craving for care, and you see an emerging market, waiting for love.

    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Same-sex love more accepted

    Yesterday a bill allowing same-sex couples to adopt children has been passed in in NSW parliament's Lower House here in Sydney. Before the proposal becomes reality it has to go through the upper house as well. But things are happening!

    Since July 2009 same-sex couples who can prove they are in a de facto relationship have most of the rights of married couples, but Australia does not have a national registered partnership or civil union scheme.

    Countries in which homosexual gouples can get married (according to Wikipedia): Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden

    I like when brands like Ben & Jerry take a stand for social issues like these, fighting for people´s right to love and be respected for it. I am not sure it´s a trend, but let´s wish it is. If you have more examples of brands with guts, let me know!

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    DIY is for fun in a world that yawns

    We all watched Masterchef and many wanted to learn how to cook like one. People were running to the shops to buy the ingredients, to be able to create fabulous things in the kitchen. But why? Cooking and DIY is not fun if it is for everyday food consumption. It is done more because we crave the pleasure of being an artist, a creator, someone who shapes the world. And we want to have fun!

    I would say DIY is a reaction on the boredom of our time. Sure, people are stressed, but there are more people who think life is too dull than who think it´s too exciting. We are heavy consumers of information, all flooding into our brains through or tech gadgets, but our hands and fantasy are not used for more than scrolling pages on the ipad. We are over stimulated in one part, and under stimulated in another. We work as small pieces in a big machinery, and very few get to see something go from conception to completion.

    When creating a strange mystery challenge like piece in the kitchen or hammering on your own fence, you feel  as if you are meaningful. I think humans are meant to build and develop things. It makes us live to our full potential, having all senses involved, and I think that is why Masterchef was such a powerful show; tapping into our deep needs and dreams of having a purpose.

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Hearing loss is a problem of our time

    All the new technology brings excitement, but also creates a new type of injuries and negative effects. Apparently teens who listen to their ipods are losing their ability to hear...

    The proportion of teens in the Us with slight hearing loss has increased 30 % in the last 15 years, and one in five teens are now affected. The number with mild or worse hearing loss has grown 77 % and one in 20 has now serious problems.

    So why? An Australian study found a 70 % increased risk of hearing, loss associated with the use of headphones for portable music devices.

    I wonder when the music and mp3 player industry will create a safe headphone that do not damage our ears...

    Source: The Week