Posts filed under ‘retail’

As Streetwear Peaks in Bangkok…

street1.jpgJu (MindShare, Regional Team) writes:

“With a surfer’s business model, Harajuku aesthetic, and uniquely independent American attitude, the message of streetwear speaks to a global youth audience.”Theme Magazine, “X-Pollination of Streetwear”

At The Esplanade, another mall that has recently sprouted up in Bangkok, there is huge fenced-off, under-construction section that promised a space for Zoo York, Ed Hardy, Reef, Emily The Strange, and the likes of other such streetwear brands.

Streetwear is part of street culture, the definition of which is difficult to articulate and often subject to debate. On a superficial level, street culture is united through the elements of hip-hop, skate/surf culture, graffiti arts, print designs, and an obsession for limited editions. At its more meaningful core, it manifests the values of individuality, rebellion, sexiness, originality, freedom, and a sense of exclusive smallness, dressed up in a certain aesthetics, tone, music and attitude that only those ‘in the know’ can decode.

As I walked by that section at The Esplanade, I couldn’t help thinking of the principles of trend research, as a paper written eight years ago by Flamingo International on forward-looking trend research (Complacency Kills: Protecting Levi’s Cool Mindshare) articulates very well:

…one of the effects of skate culture, a culture both marginal and increasingly aspirational for the mainstream, has been the growth in non-denim workwear and combats, from brands such as Carhartt, Dickie’s, Homeboy, Stoopid. The Early Adopter credibility of these brands depends on their smallness, to the extent that once they become big they are left to the mainstream, as the leading edge goes off in search of more underground brands. The short lifecycle of these brands feeds into consumer perceptions that they can keep finding cool, new, small brands (indeed, smallness becomes a prerequisite for coolness and acceptability).

Assuming this, could the fact that these ‘underground’ brands now have a big, clear presence in a mall and are thus more accessible and recognized by the mainstream erode their ‘cool equity’ in the minds of Bangkok’s true leading edge youth?

As streetwear travels from its fringe origins with local Californian surfer Shawn Stussy in 1980, mutating and cross-pollinating around the globe (more on the journey of streetwear here), the type that eventually lands with a grand entrance at one of Bangkok’s latest shopping malls 27 years later is also likely to attract a mainstream group who buy more into the hype rather than into the lifestyle or the attitude of the brand. This risks chipping away at the brand’s youth credibility in the long run even as sales volume rises.

For any mass brand striving to become a part of youth’s ‘cool’ ground (or maintain it), it may useful to consider this ‘Early Adopter’ strategy put forth in Flamingo’s paper:

As a mass brand, in the sense that the brand enjoys high volume sales, it has been central… to retain cool mindshare by specifically not targeting the mainstream. As a brand which has to achieve credibility above all with the key 15-19 male target, it is essential that the brand be seen to be part of the target’s world, initiating trends from within, rather than merely ‘decorating’ that world. This means aiming ideally to stay ahead of the core target, but at least to match them…

….Media is not only chosen on the basis of penetration, GRPs, etc. Cool mindshare depends on…maintaining a discreet dialogue with the most opinion-leading core target: this means having a credible low-key presence in selected media… ensuring that opinion-leading youth feel they have access to communication coming from the brand which is less accessible to the mainstream.

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June 18, 2007 at 3:58 am 1 comment

“Being Spaces” in Bangkok

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Ju writes (MindShare, Regional) writes:

Anyone monitoring consumer lifestyle trends couldn’t have missed out the concept of “Being Spaces“, put forth by trendwatching.com, described as: “commercial living-room-like settings, where catering and entertainment aren’t just the main attraction, but are there to facilitate small office/living room activities like watching a movie, reading a book, meeting friends and colleagues, or doing your admin.

Starbucks is a great example on a global scale, while many companies in Japan, China and South-Korea offer deluxe gaming and manga-reading facilities, as well as semi-private DVD booths.

BEING SPACES charge us for eating, drinking, playing, listening, surfing, working, or meeting, just as we would at home or in the office, while successfully reintegrating us into city life.”

The trend is rapidly catching on among the young and urban in Bangkok, unsuprisingly, considering these factors: a) the need to avoid the notoriously congested traffic and jam-packed public transportation by remaining in one spot for as long as possible, b) the desire for new, private experiences that set them slightly apart from the masses yet keep them wired to trendy offerings in an urban setting, and most importantly, c) the emphasis on design and beauty that came together with the explosion of the indie scene in 2005, unique among Bangkok youth. The buzz word “dek naew“, a term coined by the local media used to describe the young followers of the indie arts and culture who “wouldn’t be caught dead in Louis Vuitton or Gucci”. Two years later, the ‘dek naew’ rage has quietened, but the concept of counter-culture and the backlash against mainstream culture has already become deeply rooted in the mindsets of the creatively hip and trendy, paving the way for the birth of informal social networking activities like Pecha Kucha nights.

Leading the “BEING SPACES’ trend in Bangkok, local cable, internet, and mobile conglomerate True already has 4 such ‘lifestyle shops’, offering services that range from DVD-watching spaces to wireless iPod stations to live music sessions by indie artists. The services offered vary appropriately, according to the location and the group it caters to. My guess is it’s the chilled-out hippies and tourists in Kao Sarn, the designer-artists-creatives group in Thong Lo, the wired and flashy upscale at Siam Paragon, and the young, trendy teens at Siam Square.

Apart from established spots like The Style by Toyota, Thailand Creative and Design Center (TCDC), House Cinema, Playground, and the new Central World Plaza which brands itself as ‘the largest lifestyle shopping complex’, the most recent addition to this scene is The Third Place, which positions itself as a place to live, work, and play, with a club where members pay a fee to hang out in an informal work space complete with all the office facilities (fax, printer, scanner, photocopier), conference rooms, board games and even a garden terrace. You can check out the ambience in the video below:

Another signal alerting the re-arranging of social network structures in Asia, as people seek out open platforms to socialize both on and offline.

February 19, 2007 at 12:50 pm 8 comments

Japanese Ginza shoppers tagged

vert.ginza.shopping.gi.jpgJames (MindShare regional team, Singapore) writes:

In your Christmas drunken haze you may have missed this important CNN report from Japan:

Stores in central Tokyo are set to beam news of special offers, menus and coupons to passers-by in a trial run of a radio-tagging system.

The Tokyo Ubiquitous Network Project, which launches in the glitzy Ginza district next month, sends shoppers information from nearby shops via a network of radio-frequency identification tags, infrared and wireless transmitters, according to the project’s Web site.

Shoppers can either rent a prototype reader or get messages on their cell phones. The tags and transmitters identify a reader or phone’s location and match it to information provided by shops.

Apparently Ginza will be blanketed with 10,000 RFID tags. Am I the only one who thinks of that scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise is chased by personal advertising throughout the airport/mall?

The trial will take place during January to March. Very keen to know the results. If it’s successful, we can be sure this will spread like wildfire across Asia…and the world.

January 10, 2007 at 3:42 pm Leave a comment

Australia: World’s first magazine on a bottle

James (MindShare regional team, Singapore) writes:

Springwise just published its Top 10 Media & Publishing Business Ideas of 2006.

Frankly they’re all worth reading and considering for the future. But the winner in my mind came from Melbourne Australia – iLove, the world’s first magazine on a bottle. This concept just cries out to everybody else across the region…now what ELSE can we attach a magazine to?

Here are some of the facts behind iLove (according to the brand’s site!)

  • iLove is a 32-page glossy women’s magazine contained within the label of a quality 600ml spring water and is published in six separate editions monthly.
  • iLove is the world’s first magazine on a bottle and Australia’s hottest new magazine targeting the young trendy woman “on the go”.
  • iLove readers are passionate about getting hold of another version of iLove every time they buy bottled water for more of the fun and quirky pages of relationships, fashion, beauty, nightlife, eating, health, music and just some plain laugh-out-loud stories.
  • iLove readers love the magazine because they can read it anywhere – carry it in their purse when they are traveling, use it as a shopping reference and take advantage of deals on-the-spot at leading boutiques and other retailers.

Also at the site, here’s three reasons why you should advertise with iLove…

  • You buy only once, but your ads are published four times over two weeks.
  • iLove perfectly targets the health and style-conscious consumer.
  • Over 4 million women buy at least one 600ml bottled water every week! Even our modest target for market share will make iLove Australia’s biggest-selling magazine. 

January 4, 2007 at 1:28 pm 6 comments


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