A View Of Forrester’s Consumer Forum

Today was a great day in Chicago — at Forrester’s Consumer Forum. The place was hopping! I had a number of very interesting meetings with people. It’s always great to catch up with clients and friends and meet new people at this event.

I’m not going to try and recap the entire day. You can get that level of detail from the many bloggers covering the event — maybe starting with Forrester’s marketing blog. But here are some of my personal observations… 

  • Christie Hefner called me a god. During Christie’s Q&A after her presentation, I was asking questions submitted by the audience from a microphone in the back of the ballroom. When I asked the first question, Christie said that it sounded like god. Okay, I sensationalized the point — but it was still a funny moment. Just call me “Bruce Almighty.”
  • Charlene Li started a groundswell. Charlene delivered an outstanding opening keynote called “Your Customers Are Revolting ;-)” The main framework of her presentation was the “Ladder Of Participation” which defined 6 levels of Social Computing involvement: Inactives, Spectators, Joiners, Collectors, Critics, and Creators. She also talked about the P.O.S.T. process (People, Objectives, Strategy, and Technology). While all of that content was great, the most memorable moment for me was the story about the TV show Jericho. CBS canceled the show after it received poor ratings when placed opposite American Idol. Some radio guy mobilized the show’s fans and CBS ended up bringing back the show after these fans sent tons of peanuts to CBS Entertainment’s president.
  • Richard Edelman is not sorry. Richard Edelman had an interesting discussion called “Be It, Don’t Buy It.” What struck me the most was his response to questions about the scandal about the somewhat inauthentic blog called Walmart Across America. Mr. Edelman showed no remorse and offered no apology. Should he have been sorry? I don’t know; you decide. But, interestingly, he opened his speech with the following quote from Tom Friedman’s column called “The Whole World Is Watching:”

In this transparent world, how you live your life and conduct your business matters more than ever… Companies that get their ‘hows’ wrong won’t be able to clean up their mess by taking a couple of reporters to lunch…But this also creates opportunities…’how’ you keep your promises…build trust…collaborate…lead

  • Mobile puts the social back into Social Computing. That was the theme of Vidya Lakshmipathy’s presentation. She opened up her session with a great presentation about the role that mobile does/can/will play in social networks — starting with a personal story about using Dodgeball. She identified a number of different types of mobile social technologies: social networks, social mapping, media sharing, micro Blogs, and tagging. The majority of her session was dedicated to discussion with the twenty-something founders of two firms: Michael Sharon Nicholas Tommarello from Socialight and Nicholas Tommarello Michael Sharon from Urban Interactive. Socialight allows users to post “sticky notes” with in their current location — to comment on things like the food, the activities, or the great mural they see on a wall. Other people can search and find the sticky notes that are in their current location. Pretty cool stuff. Urban Interactive uses cell phones to create and carry out adult adventures. Michael used this tag line to describe what they do: “Transform cities into playgrounds.” One key lesson from the two of them: SIMPLICITY is the key to mobile design.
  • Gen Y are different; design accordingly. That was the theme of my presentation with Ross Popoff-Walker. I thought it was a fun (and hopefully informative) presentation. You can see a handful of my favorite slides at the bottom of this post. Here’s how our presentation flowed:
    • After having some fun with the audience by looking at things have changed over the last 40 years, we talked about “a new creature” called Gen Yers. 
    • We showed a bunch of data to highlight how these youngsters are different. Compared to the overall US consumers, Gen Yers: Play video games 2.2x, Use cell phones 1.7x, Like to show off their taste and style 2.2x, Are influenced by what;s how and what’s not 1.9x, Store/listen to MP3s 1.8x, Watch DVDs on a PC 1.7x, Use IM 1.8x, Use social networking sites 2.7x, and Send/receive text messages 1.8x.
    • This data helped us identify 10 attributes that companies need to keep in mind when designing experiences for Gen Yers.  I had the most fun talking about how “Gen Y Speak Their Own Language.” To make that point, I showcased the lyrics from the #1 song on Billboard’s list: Crank That by Soulja Boy
    • Keeping in mind all of those attributes, we identified 4 strategies for designing online experiences for Gen Y: Immediacy, Gen Y Literacy, Individualism, and Social Interactivity.
    • Our presentation was chock-filled with fun examples. We’ll be publishing this research later this quarter.

That’s all for now. I’m heading home very early tomorrow morning, so I won’t have any more updates from the Consumer Forum.


The bottom line: It’s a great event; don’t miss it next year! 

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

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