What Change Looks Like Close Up

Yesterday, as usual, my hair stylist asked if I wanted to read any magazines. No – I said – I’ve brought my laptop to do some work.

She said – I don’t really read magazines anymore. And I said – Neither do I really. I used to buy them all the time. And she said – Yeah so did I.

Apart from location and our views about hair, we have practically nothing in common. She’s 30-something, very styly, does hot yoga. I’m not and I don’t.

So it’s interesting when two such different people have the same behaviour. I wondered if we had the same reasons for it.

So I said – Why don’t you buy them so much now? And she said – they’re expensive and there’s really not much in them. I said – so what do you do instead – and she said – Google things on my iPad.

I do that too – I said – on my laptop. And Pinterest. She said – Oh yes I love Pinterest. And Tumblr. And Instagram.

And I find out a lot on Facebook I said. She didn’t reply.

Later I picked up a recent magazine and leafed through it. It was great – very engrossing. Good stories. Nice graphics. As good as ever.

In this ocean of information though, print magazines are up against a lot more sources of competition than they have ever been. So far, despite my hair stylist and I, many are holding their own.

Update: 27 May 2015

I talked to someone in the industry recently about this. His company has just invested in some very sophisticated printing technology. So you’re putting your faith in the printed word? I asked. He said – Jill, when international air travel began, did ocean liners disappear? It’s true – they didn’t. But [I thought afterwards] when DVDs came along did videotapes disappear? Some products have intrinsic appeal.

As magazines increasingly inhabit both online and offline worlds they are actually much better placed than  both passenger ships and videotape. There will always be content and communities of interest whatever form they take.But it will be interesting to look back in five to ten years and see what happened.


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When Gran Has a Smartphone

One of the major findings from my 2015 Right for the Times study is that Gran has a smartphone. Well not every Gran – but almost half of the [online] 65 plus age group and over 60% of  younger oldies.

What’s more – the 65+ Grans and Pops are even more likely to have a tablet [the larger type and user-friendly interface makes it even more accessible].

But so what? These people are late to the party – what difference do they make?

I guess most marketers would be interested in the fact that mobile communications have now become an every person thing, not just a young person thing. So it’s time to adjust those user personas and explore the possibilities of apps and services for wealthy baby boomers and beyond.

But there are deeper changes afoot. Most of us now participate in the digital revolution. And the latecomers are going through exactly the same kind of mindset changes that we went through when we joined in – however many years ago that was and however old we were at the time.

So, collectively, our society and culture is also going through a mindset change. We as a society now have a greater sense of empowerment. Some things – like getting a good deal or making a complaint – feel much easier. [City traffic still feels hard].

And now that we are more easily connected to friends and family wherever they are – there’s some compensation for the increased geographical dispersion of our loved ones.

There’s greater streamlining and efficiency – so more and more of us develop higher customer expectations – we are more likely to want what we want when we want and to become impatient in the face of delays or lack of availability.

We’ll impulsively try more things if we get to hear about them, but because of the sheer volume of information we are exposed to, it becomes harder and harder to remember what we heard. So unless we can act on something straightaway it often doesn’t happen at all.

And in the face of this cacophony of human noise it’s still much easier, ironically, to stick with what we already know and just get more of that, rather than radically change our thinking. The long tail allows us to become more tribal and potentially, far more insular.

There was never any golden age where everyone suddenly became enlightened and recognised our common humanity – and this isn’t it either. The internet amplifies existing human characteristics for good and bad and daylight is not always a good disinfectant.

But if you want a society that thrives on dynamism and being adaptive and living in the moment and feeling that anything is possible, this is the place for you.

Just don’t make any long term plans.

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If you want to think differently about how to live and do business in this relentless, scary, amazing world, please scroll down to join the Windshift Network and get brief but interesting weekly newsletters.