Geo Marketing: Convenience or Concern?

Imagine walking into your favourite mall one day and you’re greeted by billboards and store fronts start calling out your name, telling you about your shopping history and suggesting new products for you.

Seems like that reality may not be too far off. Like the scene above from Minority Report, retailers and malls here are in talks with digital technology firms to install tracking systems to detect shopper movement, face and even gender to ‘better cater’ to our needs.

Is this convenience? Or does it warrant concern about privacy?

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Who Awards the Awards?

I was just commenting to my fiancé this evening how Academy Award winners always seem to be movies that I’ve never seen. I then started to think if I had poor cultural taste. How do we judge whether a movie deserves to be nominated for an award? What criteria would you use? 

The Never-Ending Tussle Between Box Office Hits and Award Winners

While writing Wednesday’s post, I got into an argument with my editor about The Artist. I wanted to write that moviegoers don’t like it very much, and he countered that the film has received 10 Oscar nominations as well as generally excellent reviews.

And yet average customers—the ones who may not read film reviews and who may know next to nothing about silent film—have shown little inclination to see The Artist. At the same time, they are showering hundreds of millions of dollars on films like Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol. The Weinstein Company must be feverishly arguing about what is holding people back from The Artist. Are moviegoers afraid of black-and-white movies? Are they afraid of silent movies? Or are they afraid that The Artist is the kind of “art” that tastes like medicine, something they are supposed to take because it’s good for them?

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McBaguette Anyone?

You don’t need to be a business student to appreciate how the success or failure of certain companies sheds light on the importance of contexts, culture and people. Read the article below and consider why McDonald’s is fairly successful in Singapore as well. 

Born in the USA, Made in France: How McDonald’s Succeeds in the Land of Michelin Stars

France — the land of haute cuisine, fine wine and cheese — would be the last place you would expect to find a thriving fast-food market. In a country known for its strong national identity and anti-globalization movement, it seems improbable that McDonald’s could have survived the onslaught of French social and political activism. In 1999, José Bové, an agricultural unionist, became a hero to anti-globalization supporters when he and his political group, Confédération Paysanne, bulldozed a McDonald’s in Milau, France, to protest against U.S. trade restrictions on French dairy products. With bullhorn in hand, he declared to the television news cameras: “We attacked this McDonald’s because it is a symbol of multinationals that want to stuff us with junk food and ruin our farmers.” In 2004, amid the nutritional controversy sparked by Morgan Spurlock’s documentarySupersize Me, McDonald’s was declared in French media to be the epitome of malbouffe, or “junk food” and deemed partly to blame for the nation’s rising obesity rate.

And yet McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast-food corporation, with a global presence in 123 countries across all six inhabited continents, has turned the home of Le Cordon Bleu cooking academies and the Michelin Guide of world-renowned restaurants into its second-most profitable market in the world. The chain has more than 1,200 restaurants in France — all locally owned franchises — and a growth rate of 30 restaurants per year in the past five years alone. What is at the heart of this impressive growth that has stunned French observers and surprised business analysts? The three main reasons for McDonald’s success are local responsiveness, rebranding and a robust corporate ecosystem.

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Gaming: Anti-Social Monster or Future Problem Solver?

Nobody really has a problem with gaming until some incident of horrific violence based (however loosely) on video game content (e.g. Virginia Tech, Oslo shooter, crazy WOW addicts, S. Korean parental neglect of baby) crops up. While these tragic episodes definitely warrant reflection on the influence of games on society, have we been too quick to demonize games as a whole? Is video gaming addiction (i.e. when playing the game impedes other normal functioning–which can incidentally be applied to addiction to just about anything) itself really a problem with the video game industry?

Broader studies and analyses still find it hard to draw links between game and violence or anti-social behavior though. In fact, a study in America actually revealed the average gamer age to be closer to 37, and that most games played are actually deal with puzzles rather than hardcore action or role-playing.

But even so, are hardcore action and role-playing games all that bad?

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Upgrade your meal with a beer?

Another lighthearted but beer-bellied entry.

Some fast food chains in the US are considering adding beer to their menus. Watch this newsy report  for a quick summary of the chains involved so far and reactions to it. While some might be celebrating the inclusion of alcohol to their favorite value meals, others are more concerned about the social and safety risks–especially those driving.

What are your thoughts on this business idea? 

Could such an idea be successfully imported into chains in Singapore? 

How shopping malls make you buy

A lighthearted entry. I’m sure we’re familiar with the shopping mall–Singapore is brimming with these enclosed spaces of multi-floored material wonder and consumerist glitz. However, are you familiar with what sort of behavioral considerations go beyond the spatial design of such modern day constructs of temptation? Watch the video above to get a brief idea.

Are the ideas presented in the video applicable to your own shopping experiences?

Recall your own shopping experiences and share other ways you think shopping malls are designed to make people spend. 

On a deeper note: Do buildings affect social behavior? Or is it the other way round?