retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Two fascinating pieces that I've read recently about how consumer behavior is changing...

• The Boston Globe wrote the other day about how email is just so yesterday.

"With billions of e-mails shooting around the world every day," the Globe writes, "clogging Gmail and Yahoo accounts everywhere, many are recoiling from the torrent. It’s either too much of a chore, or just uncool. The young set has bypassed it altogether, seizing on social media tools such as Twitter, or texting, as their primary means of electronic chatter. Some big companies find e-mail outdated, and instead are using more sophisticated internal messaging networks that filter out outside noise. And some busy professionals say it isn’t convenient anymore — a time-waster, in fact."

Another fact: "More people are finding that they can turn down or turn off e-mail altogether ... the amount of consumer e-mail traffic fell 9.5 percent between 2010 and 2012, and is projected to keep declining for the near future, according to the Radicati Group, a Palo Alto, Calif., technology research firm."

It isn't like email is going away. But its impact may be declining, which could have a significant on many companies' marketing efforts.

• The Los Angeles Times reports that stuff that used to be important to teenagers just aren't as important anymore:

"Thirty years ago, nearly half of 16-year-olds had a driver's license, their passport to independence. By 2010 that figure had dropped to 28 percent, according to research from the University of Michigan.

"The cultural shift is largely the result of technology that keeps teens connected to one another and the coolest new stuff without ever getting into a car. All the adolescent staples - music, movies, clothes, books - are available with a mouse click or smartphone swipe ... (and) nearly three-quarters of millennials, ages 18 to 34, would rather shop online than in stores, according to a December survey by Zipcar, the hourly car-rental company. Given the choice of losing their phone or computer or their car, 65 percent would go without their car."

The implications are enormous, especially for the automobile industry, which will be faced with marketing to a generation less obsessed with cars and less interested in acquiring cars that define them. And think about the extended implications for magazines, newspapers and broadcast networks that depend on car advertising. Not to mention the companies that have created enormous stores and parking lots ...

It's all an an Eye-Opener...
KC's View: