Imitation Game

This morning I hopped out of an Uber, almost jogged into my office building while texting one of my colleagues, and realized I needed coffee. Luckily I am not a coffee snob, so my caffeine need was solved by hitting the Kuerig button on my way through the office kitchen.

Six hours and many meetings later., I realized how a part of the “the convenience effect” I am. (I’m sure someone has come up with a better name for this). Of course, the efficiency of my morning routine is highly dependent on technological shortcuts. Instead of walking down the hall to ask a colleague a question face to face, I pick up the phone or even send a text. My stomach starts growling and I order delivery from my desk. I need to meet with an associate in LA, we Skype instead of flying across the country. All those choices made my day easier and faster… but did they make it better?

Instead of coming up with fresh, new ideas or stimulating conversations, we’re taking short cuts and imitating others. Social sharing, while great for a thousand reasons, has led to imitation and sameness—in dress, décor, behavior and communications. We walk the home goods aisle of TJ Maxx’, to find 10 different incarnations of the once iconic and classic Mason jar. We hear someone use a new phrase, then find ourselves repeating it hours later, even if it’s a made-up word.

Are we all turning into a culture of lemmings without original thoughts and ideas? Are we OK with always taking a page from someone else’s book? Has convenience driven us not to need to think for ourselves? Ok, this might sound a bit dramatic but it is on my mind. Think about the latest “convenience” from Amazon, Dash. You just press a button next to your coffee maker or washing machine and presto! More coffee or laundry detergent is delivered the next day. If you are the coffee or detergent brand on ‘speed dial’, good for you. But it might be there were new, better choices for the shopper but the choice was already made. There are no steps involved. Some in the media are rightfully raising the question—is our need for speed and convenience making us lazier and keeping us from having to think? Is taking steps out of daily tasks going to lead to the futuristic world illustrated in the movie, “WALL-E”?

At TPN, “Reimagine Retail” is the promise we deliver to our clients. That means we have to hold ourselves to thinking uniquely, not just taking a current idea and making it better. (DASH might be one of those unique ideas that changes the face of retail, my jury is still out). We have to innovate thought and process. We create, invent, dissect, and then think again in a new and different way. The outcomes can be surprising and they are always fresh.

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Sharon Love

Sharon Love is CEO of retail marketing agency, TPN. To Sharon, "retail is a verb". It's not a place, but a state of mind where people can shift into a shopping mindset anywhere, anytime. As consumers become better-informed, smarter shoppers, Sharon challenges herself and the agency to evolve with them. Beyond her business savvy, she is an avid shopper, consumer, reader, traveler and wanna-be chef.

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