Tag: Book Reviews
Courtesy of Christopher Pattberg
Considered one of the most multi-cultural country in the world, the United States of America has one of the world’s most culturally and ethnically diverse population. Presently, it has some 305 million people out of whom 68% are non-Hispanic whites, 15% are Hispanics, 12% are blacks and 5% Asian American.
While white Americans currently dominate the American marketplace, some of the country’s most profitable segments actually hail from the other segments. Projections by the Census Bureau show that by 2050 when the US population grows to about 439 million, non-Hispanic Caucasians will only make up 46% of the country’s population. By then, the population of Hispanics (the fastest growing group) will swell to 30%, with blacks growing to 15% and Asian Americans swelling to 9%.
Courtesy of The Straits Times
Hello Kitty strikes again!
This time around, the opening of the Hello Kitty Cafe at Changi Airport generated huge and serpentine queues. According to a story in The Straits Times, this is the world’s first 24 hour Hello Kitty Cafe, offering a modest 84 seats in total.
In a world that tends to swing to extremes, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s book Nudge proposes a radical approach which looks at embracing a middle road to making better decisions. Terming their approach as “libertarian paternalism” – a seeming oxymoron at first glance – Thaler and Sunstein moots that people are often unable to make good decisions when they lack experience, expert knowledge, or are overcome with inertia.
Think for example about the last time you invested in an insurance policy. Were you aware of how its terms of premium payments were like compared to others? Or the penalties that are imposed if you surrender it early? What happens if (touch wood) you are unable to keep the policy going?
In the world of business, there are few winners and many losers. The merciless marketplace leaves little room for companies trying to be all things to all men, spreading their resources too thinly across many areas. Those who make it focus their energies and resources on focusing their energies on one of the three key value disciplines – operational excellence, product leadership or customer intimacy – and look at ways to continually improve superior value.
According to The Discipline of Market Leaders, the true formula for enduring strategic success is to be either operationally excellent, exceptional in leading the market in product development, or to have one’s entire business closely integrated with one’s customer’s processes. Authored by Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema, the slim volume proposes that market leaders choose their customers carefully and find the best ways to meet their needs in a highly differentiated and focused manner while ensuring that quality standards are not compromised.
American Girl dolls casting their branded charms (Courtesy of Lauren-xo)
“Lights, cameras, action!” Put on your “costumes”, don your best “branded” behaviour, and perform in the stage of life’s biggest commercial brands.
That seems to be the key message of Maurya Wickstrom’s volume Performing Consumers which described the multiple ways in which big brands endear themselves to their customers through performance and theatre. Peppered liberally with theories of performativity and theatricality, the book illustrated how the creation of brandscapes in the retail environment induces deep emotional connections between man and merchandise.
I first heard about Richard Florida’s ideas from a public sector conference back in November 2008 and was intrigued by his ideas on how the world isn’t flat (ala Thomas Friedman) but is in fact spiky and dominated by mega-regions. Florida’s earlier assertions about the rise of the creative class and their catalytic roles in urban regeneration have been so significant that they are often cited by cities around the world as reasons to invest in more heavily in cultural infrastructure.
Who’s Your City was a highly ambitious undertaking by the urban theorist and economist Richard Florida to understand the importance of place in both economic and social spheres. Working with armies of researchers and statisticians from Gallup and various universities, Florida plowed through an impressive mountain of economic, social, geographic, psychographic and even cartographic (yes Florida is pretty big on maps) data to substantiate his findings.