Episode 8
January 11, 2023

Visions Episode 8: Keeping Up With the Joneses

How does looking around at what others are buying affect purchasing behavior and why does that matter? Why do companies have to be aware of their own tendencies to be tempted to keep up with the Joneses and how can they balance risk-taking and differentiation with also building on a secure tech stack?

<iframe height="52px" width="100%" frameborder="no" scrolling="no" seamless src="https://player.simplecast.com/13f0f395-d475-4085-ba2a-3912e2a26743?dark=false"></iframe>

this episode sponsored by

Software FOMO

  • “People do things differently, they behave differently, when they think someone's observing them or when they are actually being observed.” - Brian Lange
  • The more contextually we look at purchasing behaviors and the more data is industry specific, the more we can understand these behaviors
  • “It’s okay to buy the same,” when it comes to what back end systems are in place, “but you better be dang sure that it's in context to your brand where you're trying to be relevant.” - Dan Griffin
  • “Don't make it about the merchant purchasing a stack. Support the stack by being really good at what you do. And I almost look at a responsibility back to the technology company to ensure that they're staying focused on that.” - Dan Griffin
  • When it comes to bundling and unbundling your technology, “It's an interesting balance because there're pros and cons to both. I think both from a software company’s growth and just overall trajectory, like how they grow, then in tandem with the merchant because it's a dance. Both matter and they're both in concert with one another.” - Scott Elchison
  • “If you're a merchant getting into this stuff, here's the thing. You need to understand your pain points and try not to get too far ahead of yourself.” - Dan Griffin
  • “In areas where you don't know, lean into best practices. That's when you lean into best practices is when you feel like you don't have expertize and then you go like get after those things and start to think, "Okay, what's beyond best practices? How do I actually differentiate myself?” - Brian Lange
  • FOMO drives a lot of keeping up with the Joneses. “Fear actually drives a lot of purchasing. A lot. And that's not a good thing.” - Brian Lange
  • How have brands tried to keep up with other brands when it come to Web3, blockchain, NFTs, etc?
  • “The idea here is that they weren't investing in blockchain technology, but they're like, "How do we invest in the culture, in the fandoms around that?" And that's where I saw from the brand level where people were all about it. There's attention, and where there's attention there is value, there's money to be made. And so, throw your brand at it, see what sticks.” - Scott Elchison

Guests

Associated Links:

Have any questions or comments about the show? Let us know on futurecommerce.fm, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We love hearing from our listeners!

Announcer: [00:00:02] Today on Visions.

Scott Elchison: [00:00:06] Where you are in your life cycle gives you different opportunities to innovate.

Dan Griffin: [00:00:13] I'm a big believer in permission to fail. And what you just described is so super important for businesses to grow. And we've also had this conversation of, "Oh my gosh, I have to protect against the negative attacks that come from one poor experience, from a shopper that now hits multiple channels." It's an overwhelming situation for a merchant.

Announcer: [00:00:46] Welcome to Visions. Visions is an annual audiovisual trends report that covers the changes in culture and commerce. This series is meant to be a companion guide to our 100 page report. Download and follow along at Visions.Report. Episode 8: Keeping Up With the Joneses.

Phillip: [00:01:15] Hi, I'm Phillip. In 2016, a study of Canadian lottery winners found that the neighbors of lottery winners were more likely to experience financial difficulties due to conspicuous consumption. In other words, the desire to keep up with the Joneses produced observable causal relationships. If we are anything alike, we have all experienced that having Joneses in our neighborhoods or even social circles, although not necessarily lottery winners, influences other people's decisions. And this phenomenon is not just reserved for individuals. It affects our business decisions as well. And this is no more evident than in the trends and fads that we go through in eCommerce. Businesses are not immune any more than we are as individuals. Even software goes through fads and fashion. Salesforce... Shopify... They're both exemplars of trends that become self-reinforcing decisions for specific industries. People buy and implement the software that their closest competitors buy and implement. The human need to fit in governs every aspect of our lives. Businesses buy the same software as their closest competitors and we buy the same clothing and cars as those we admire. In group dynamics, keeping up with the Joneses... It's all a function of our social groups and circles, our language, our careers, our digital personas, all of it in order to signal our identity and our values.

Brian: [00:03:01] Hello and welcome back to Visions, a podcast by Future Commerce. I'm here at the Visions Summit. People are buying things both on the consumer side and on the business side, just for the sake of showing people that they bought the right things. Have you ever bought anything where you bought it as like a flex? It could be anything.

Scott Elchison: [00:03:22] I don't buy things that often.

Announcer: [00:03:24] Scott Elchison, Partner Management at Yotpo!

Scott Elchison: [00:03:26] When the first M1 MacBook came out, I hadn't upgraded since 2010, so my MacBook was about 12 years old and it didn't work basically. So I bought like just fresh, like one terabyte hard drive, got the M1 Mac, got the new keyboard, and I was stoked about it and I made sure everybody at work knew that I was typing from my M1 MacBook. It was awesome because we're a bunch of nerds. So that was like my most recent flex. The other one that stands out in my mind was I always wanted to understand and taste what money tastes like. So like Dom Perignon. So we bought Dom Perignon one time. Yeah. That was like the two bougiest things I think I've done.

Dan Griffin: [00:04:07] I spent a good portion of my career consulting and leading consulting teams in the CRM space.

Announcer: [00:04:12] Dan Griffin, Head of Partnerships at Klevu.

Dan Griffin: [00:04:15] One of the categories that I led was financial services. So that immediately means you're in front of boards. I was pretty young at the time, so the first thing I bought for the flex or to show off was a very high-end set of shoes and a matching belt because I just understood if I walked in and didn't look... I already looked young. If I didn't look the part, there was zero credibility there. And the second one, I'm actually wearing it. And so I have a watch on that we're not going to show, but I have a watch on, for the same reason, that I bought 16 years ago before a meeting, because I knew it was important. And I also happened to know that one of the people I was walking to that meeting with had the same watch.

Brian: [00:04:59] Wow.

Dan Griffin: [00:04:59] And it was an important deal at the time. We ended up winning it. I'm going to go with because of the watch.

Brian: [00:05:15] I love that. And actually, you bring up something that I think is huge in this idea of keeping up with the Joneses that we get into is sort of the Hawthorne effect. People behave differently when they think someone's observing them or actually being observed. So it could be either, it could be perceived, it could be real, but they act differently. One of the things we identified is that in business purchasing, there's always been this idea of you don't get fired for hiring Big Blue, but it was really internal in many ways. It was very specific to that business. It's become a lot bigger than that for a couple of reasons. So one is transparency. So businesses have become a lot more transparent and allowed employees to be more transparent on social media or in other places, so people know what purchases you've made. If you were in charge of making them, it's very easy to find out with the sort of democratization of commerce. And Shopify and Wix and Squarespace, like everyone is a merchant now and everyone is an eCommerce buyer. And so it actually reflects really closely on your person, your personal life, as well. There is an element of "I don't want to look like the oddball out. You don't want to pick the wrong thing and you just don't know where to go. And also you're being observed. There's a lot going on here.

Dan Griffin: [00:06:43] When talked about you don't get fired for buying IBM, for buying Big Blue. Let's talk about the eighties and the nineties when analyst firms started to show up. And now it was we're keeping up with the Joneses because this independent study told me these are the best and you didn't have a space to really talk about it, so you trusted analyst reports. Now we know a little bit about how that business works. It's a little bit more open than it was then. And so now I pull forward to how do people buy now? And so I think about LinkedIn and you talk about just the pervasive number of just commerce platforms you can prop up an eCommerce site on. I follow a bunch of people on LinkedIn just like a general person. I know that if Persona A is a Shopify or a BigCommerce or Magento or whoever, I'm probably going to trust them. So I view this as like this social influencer piece that we've talked about, Scott, but social influencing in the business leader aspect of you're able to tie it because, Brian, you're right on. We know what technology everyone is running. You cannot hide it for the most part. You know especially on the front end what they're running. And now if I can tie that to people that I view as influencers or market makers, then I'm keeping up with them because that must be the right thing to do without a whole level of influence. So for us at Klevu, we see this a good bit, and it's not because of the competition, but it's because of the perception of result. Being able to go do a little bit of "What should my result be?" And smart marketing and sales organizations are leading people down the keeping up with the Joneses path that don't want to get into a results-driven path. And we're fighting to get to the results-driven conversation and make it less of a commodity, less democratized, so to speak, more about that end result for that individual merchants' buyers' behavior or interaction. And I think that's the difference. Companies can dictate how people purchase and interact with them, especially in software. So at Klevu, we choose, let's talk about the outcome in context to your particular business model, and then it prevents this, "Oh, I made a bad choice, but at least I'm safe because this market leader that I have follow or this analyst or this big brand that's established said to do so because you still have to have results. And so I think there's a way, I know you didn't ask how to counteract it, but I think it's super important to counteract it. Tell the story of what someone's going to get out of software or out of things that they purchase because it translates back to the merchants that we interact with. What's the story that their buyer is going to get from interacting on their site? And just so everyone knows, at Klevu, we do search, we do product discovery on commerce sites, so we help surface products that people show high intent to buy. And it's not just a 1 to 1 search, but we're trying to surface things in the right position. It's the same way when you're buying technology. You should really think about what's that outcome going to be that they're really looking for, not what I'm just trying to push.

Scott Elchison: [00:10:03] When we go back to this idea of democratizing commerce, it's basically like starts maybe with a solo entrepreneur, and it's easy for them to look out to maybe social media or LinkedIn and say, "Hey, the people that already in the business, what are they doing? What are they using?" Because if I'm just starting out, I may as well just basically take the same tech stack that they have that I know potentially, I "know" that's working." From what the research that you can do as an individual, it's like they're selling product. It seems pretty solid, it's like, "I can start with that. And it's pretty easy." It's all plugins to Shopify, click, click, click and you're live. And so I think that kind of part of the keeping up is like one, it's vetted solutions. It's a best in class. So for the buyer, especially like the solo entrepreneur or people that are coming up in the VSBs, they're like, "This is great for what it is." And then I think as you kind of continue the journey, as you grow, you start to look to see, okay, what are the bigger sized company is using. And that's kind of a way to just ensure that you're allocating resources properly because when you're young, you don't have the time to do as in-depth of an investigation into the different products or you might not have very specific needs as you grow, you have more resources, you have more education, you have very specific, I would say, challenges that you need the software to do. And that is a kind of again, a way to say, "Oh, well, they probably vetted this in a good way that makes sense for me." So that's just kind of something that I think about. Of course, the caveat to all that is it's like, "Have they invested in any of that?" Because that's the one thing where it's like they might be pushing it, but it's like, why are they pushing it? Something to kind of think about more and more today. But I think for us when we see from the Yotpo perspective it's understanding how buyers are buying, I think the one thing we always see is that they're looking for good products, consolidated products, and things that just, to your point, drive results. How can we help make their lives easier on the agency side of things, on the brand side of things? They want great support, great products, and great results. And if we can kind of combine that all into one package, then I think that can really help deliver a best in class software experience. And ideally, that's what gets you onto those lists you see on Twitter. Because whenever I see one, I'm out there. I'm like, "Okay, who are you and how do I get Yotpo to be on your next list or get us into the conversation? Because I think those things matter.

Brian: [00:12:39] As the two of you were talking, I think both of you are actually right on point. There's an element of counterfactual reasoning that goes into this keeping up with the Joneses because there's this looking out at others and saying, "Oh, what if I had bought..." And by the way, counterfactual reasoning is basically what-if statements. It's this causal modality where they're where they think, "Oh if it worked for them, it could work for me." And the thing that I think is another danger of this, and I think this line of thinking is prevalent among buyers, is that it worked in their context. That is a huge deal. And so you might say... The more contextual you start to think about things, the more the math can start to change. So in Beauty, that solution worked. It might not work for auto parts. {laughter} And so, I think, Dan, to your point, data around that's actually significant by industry is where I wish that we saw more buying like that but that's not to say that all counterfactual reasoning is wrong. I think it's better counterfactual reasoning that we need.

Dan Griffin: [00:14:28] Well, there's risk-taking when we talk about purchasing things, especially in the B2B space. There's safety in established. We were fortunate enough to have a pre-read of the Visions report and one of the things you'll see in there is you take three marquee brands and you strip the header out and you put pictures of them next to each other and they're actually deployed... They have three different technologies deployed to support all three of these sites, but they look the same. So I bought three different things and I still position it the same way. The look and feel, the theme, if you're in... The theme is the same.

Brian: [00:15:07] Yes.

Dan Griffin: [00:15:08] And so I just find it interesting that the purchase stops at the purchase. The keeping up with the Joneses stops at the purchase and like, it's okay. And I just wish people would take more risk on the equivalent to your point, Scott, of it has to be in context to where you are growing, but take more risk into the experience you're trying to generate.

Scott Elchison: [00:15:46] Maybe there is different personality or nuances of like how those backends operate or how they connect, which makes a difference. So it matters with the brand, but maybe not for the outward presence for the consumer. I think it also matters, and I think this is why maybe you start to see larger brands just look the same is where does the responsibility for that vision change from leadership down to the individual that's making the purchase? Because somebody that's making the purchase might be, to your point, it's buying Big Blue. It's like I'm here for a job and I'm going to get paid no matter what. And it's like I'm just doing this. Whereas that real creativity, that vision, that differentiation, I feel like sometimes has to come from the top and it has to be sometimes pushed down to say, "Hey, we want this for this reason," or kind of establish that culture in the beginning. Because again, it goes back to right now, it's like all these entrepreneurs sprouted up, all these stores sprouted up, depending on who you are and your vision, what you're trying to do, you might be trying to just dropship coffee or t-shirts. And it's just like, "Same is fine for me. It's working. It's passive income. I'm good." If you're trying to make a super differentiated product and you have experience in the space and you're like, "You know what? I'm going to do something wacky and weird. I'm just super maximalism, and I'm going to have bright colors," and it's like maybe put a little friction into the shopping experience just to make it interesting and different, makes all the sense. I think I look at MSCHF for that. That's a great company out of Brooklyn doing all sorts of drop culture and it's just like their app is crazy. How they go to market is totally broken and different, broken in the best way possible than what we see traditionally across...

Brian: [00:17:27] 90% of...

Scott Elchison: [00:17:28] 90% of sites. And I think that that stems from having a real true vision or an idea of like I don't like the recognization of that. I'm going to do something different. I'm super confident in it. And that level of confidence or like that level of operational ability is potentially what's creating some sameness, you know, whether it was in 1980, 1990 or now, where it is the kind of creativity or like that empowerment that lies within the organization.

Dan Griffin: [00:17:52] You're so right there because the last point you made was like, "I see on Twitter and I see the stack and I go, look," and you just differentiated the stack from in-house operation, which is two totally different things, and you're rightfully calling those things out. I think it's interesting what companies do once they, especially merchants, do when they go buy if they replicate the stack purchase. How do they make it their own? And I think that's what we're trying to figure out. It's okay to buy the same.

Brian: [00:18:24] Right.

Dan Griffin: [00:18:25] But you better be dang sure that it's in context to your brand where you're trying to be relevant.

Brian: [00:18:31] Right. As we head towards how to move to maybe better purchasing behaviors, I think one, it's not necessarily always a bad thing to buy something that other people are buying.

Dan Griffin: [00:18:44] Sure.

Brian: [00:18:45] That can be good. However, you've got to have qualifiers, so it's interesting, what happens when the trends change? And all of a sudden you just bought into a stack that was supposed to be hot and really the best practice stack. And then all of a sudden, six months later, one of those companies was actually a very flimsy startup that lost its funding. And another one of those companies, it turns out that they weren't able to produce the results they were supposed to, or people or consumers' behaviors change, and then the next best practices list comes out. And now what are you going to do? Like switch technologies? I mean, sometimes you have to. I think that's what's actually happening a lot is there's a lot of churn when it comes to like which SaaS apps are being used. Either that or you get stuck with a piece of technology that's really not performing at the level that you'd want it to.

Phillip: [00:19:51] "What if our preferences are being shaped by algorithms? It's no secret that algorithms tailor our experiences online and in particular our advertising experiences toward our preferences and desires. In our 2022 Visions Consumer survey, we found that two out of every three people acknowledged that their taste is directly impacted by their social media preferences. But when it comes to business practices, our perspective is that everyone uses a particular brand of software, and that may be the result of algorithmic timelines or audience matching and a behavioral manipulation. Brands that factor in other people's perceptions into their software choices are experiencing consumer dynamics. Business leaders will often look at what others in their industry are doing and claim that it is experience and not the tech stack that is the differentiator. But the result is an overwhelming abundance of technology solutions and competitors that all look identical to each other." From the Visions Report.

Scott Elchison: [00:21:07] It's tough because usually on maybe the brand merchant side, it's like an individual or a couple of people, and they have to not only do, but also let's say, reviews and loyalty and SMS and search. I mean, like all of a sudden they have five, six, ten software providers that they have to vet. That's a lot of work.

Brian: [00:21:24] Yes. Yes.

Scott Elchison: [00:21:25] That is a lot a lot of work. And we recognize that we do our best to just bring the education forward. It's like if you don't go with us, that's fine. But here's why you would want these certain features or these functionalities or, or basic understanding because it's complex. There's a lot of complexity to it. And so just trying to help educate. I've seen it in this job and my previous job where a brand leaves and they try something new, but you had a good relationship, you did good results, good work, and it's like they come back and they say, "You know what, we tried and we're going to re-up because this just didn't work." And so I think always having that relationship and building that is super important. We don't succeed unless our merchants are succeeding, our brands are succeeding. So we try to give the most unbiased and helpful information we can to make their lives easier.

Brian: [00:22:30] There's a really positive element to that that I just heard, which is relational selling. In some ways, this idea of buying something because someone else bought it, it can be relational as well.

Scott Elchison: [00:22:40] For sure.

Brian: [00:22:41] And so as Yotpo builds its community and builds relationships with its customers, those customers will hopefully be telling other customers about their experiences. There are some positive sides to this that are not necessarily bad things. This is how good information can disseminate.

Dan Griffin: [00:22:59] We all search for wildly fantastic customers on our product that will go evangelize and be a channel to tell our story. So I think that's super important. What I also think is important, and you started to talk about it from a relationship perspective, and I love that you talk about the relationship sell because that's really what you're doing. It's okay to lose, right? Everyone should understand it's okay to lose. What I would love for technology companies to do is to... And this is for a majority set, it's not for the large publicly traded, huge enterprise. We'll just call it the IBM, the SAP, The Salesforces a world. But I wish that especially these smaller bolt-on technology companies in the commerce and the marketing space would really maniacally focus on being good at what they do and not feel like they need to get wide. You don't need to add a bubble immediately. There are other things there that are already working. Be really good at in context with your merchant delivering fantastic results and then others will want to keep up with the Joneses because they see the results that are driven. Keep this philosophy because this is what companies look for. You want the keeping up with the Joneses moniker? I mean, like that is the golden ticket. Making sure that as you build that relationship and as you build your technology, don't make it about the merchant purchasing a stack. Support the stack by being really good at what you do.

Brian: [00:25:32] Instead of just looking at the technology, you should be looking at what the technology buy and taking ownership and saying, I'm going to make this, I'm going to make this successful. Actually, my customer doesn't care about what technology I bought. What they care about is what kind of experience are they having. The second side of that is good technology companies should be helping their merchants understand that their customer doesn't care about what technology they're on.

Scott Elchison: [00:26:01] There are only two business models out there. There's bundling and unbundling.

Brian: [00:26:05] Yes, totally.

Scott Elchison: [00:26:06] Those are the only two business models. Yeah. I mean, I think it's interesting. I agree with you. This is the classic argument of do one thing and do it super, super well. Once you do something super, super well, you're like, okay, we're doing this great. How do we expand? How do we grow? Again, that might be fueled by venture dollars and other things, but that's the market that we're in. And with that comes this idea of consolidation and bundling things back together. And how do you start to create product synergies and make sure that like when you for a merchant you can go to one place and get some three or four really great products that all work really well together and kind of unlock incremental value that might not be available if you're just doing point solutions. And so it's an interesting balance because there are pros and cons to both. There's I think both from a software company's growth and its overall trajectory, how they grow then in tandem with the merchant. It's kind of like a dance. It's both matter and they're both kind of in concert with one another. And I think what people always say back in the day was the companies, when you're a young startup, do one thing, do it super, super well, grow your customer base, and then you kind of like expand from there.

Dan Griffin: [00:27:16] We end up in these conversations theoretically, and Scott's brought us right back twice now to small, very small business. And I think it's important when you think about the things that we're saying, you need to put this in context to where you are as a merchant. If you're deep in the space, you lose context to where people are in their journey. You inform yourself about the process and fantastic outcomes kind of solves itself.

Brian: [00:27:42] Another thing that's contributing to this is that a lot of these businesses that are popping up on Shopify, BigCommerce, etc, there's like one manager who is managing what a larger business would handle with, like 20 people. And so there is an element of they're not actually informed necessarily. They might be. They might have pushed it really hard, but understanding loyalty is a very, very different discipline than understanding an ERP.

Scott Elchison: [00:28:18] Oh, hundred percent. Oh, hundred percent.

Brian: [00:28:19] It's just like I think that's another aspect of it here is in digital, there's just actually well, there's a problem in the labor market in that there're not a lot of people that know all these things.

Scott Elchison: [00:28:38] I learned by doing. And to a point, you just have to be comfortable. And I think this is something that I think people kind of have to learn on the job maybe is you're going to learn what your business needs once it's installed and you got to roll with it. You have to make it work and you might change in a year or two or afterwards, but you don't really know 100% until you know, until you're doing it, because each business is different, each brand is different, each product is different. And so it's just like at some point you have to be flexible and okay with it. And you have to be very comfortable with like just obscurity or the unknown and just be ready for that because it's just it's different across the board for every single brand in business. So I think the more you can kind of get in the mindset of this is going to work, it's going to perform, but we know there's going to be unknowns, things are going to go wrong, that sets you up for success. That way you can, I think, focus less on the going wrong and more about the "That was coming at some point. Now how do we go out and fix it?"

Dan Griffin: [00:29:47] I'm a big believer in permission to fail. And what you just described is so super important for businesses to grow. And we've also had this conversation of, "Oh, my gosh, I have to protect against the negative attacks that come from one poor experience, from a shopper that now hits multiple channels." It's an overwhelming situation for a merchant.

Scott Elchison: [00:30:07] Absolutely. It's tough. There's no easy fix or solution with those things. As they say, it's just going through it, like experiencing it.

Dan Griffin: [00:30:18] You need to understand your pain points and try not to get too far ahead of yourself.

Brian: [00:30:22] That's such a good piece of advice.

Dan Griffin: [00:30:23] Just document your roadmap and look at your competitors or people that you admire in business that are close to you and figure out the first three things that you do. Be willing to change it. But don't think ten steps down the line because the problem, as Scott said, is going to surface and you might need to sub in something different too, but don't get overwhelmed by the full stack.

Brian: [00:30:41] Yeah, I love that. I think it's in areas where you don't know, lean into best practices. I think again, keeping up with the Joneses is not always a bad thing. It's a bad thing when you only do that. And then that's how we end up with this homogenization of eCommerce experiences where all of them feel the same now. And I think this is where this is why headless has been on everyone's lips for a while, because everyone's like, "I want to try something that's different," but everyone's too scared to do it.

Dan Griffin: [00:31:17] Because it's not different, and that's the thing. This is a category that was created by some folks that run consulting firms. This is what it is, right? I hate to pull the curtain back on everybody, but it's literally about picking the best tools that you need at the moment to deploy. And all we've done is take the front and...

Brian: [00:31:37] Retitled it.

Dan Griffin: [00:31:37] We can call it microservices, you can call it headless, you can call it whatever you want. It's how small businesses right now are building their stack and always have. Don't get overwhelmed by the term. It is now this category that's been talked about that causes mass confusion. And it's one of the things that I find as I get older, I get more annoyed by and it's the confusion that we all cause. And then now it's a feature function battle. So if I had axes to grind, it'd be two things: Category creators that aren't really creating categories. Headless is in there. And then the feature function battle and not creating outcomes. If those are two things you could take on as a buyer and not get caught up in them as your sole decisions...

Scott Elchison: [00:32:28] I think it goes back to this having that ability to be that consultant, that approach where it's like, "Hey, listen, we want to arm you with all the information. If you get a deck from us, it's going to have our SKU on it. Then go look at competitors..." Arm them with the content or the material to give them the best solution possible. Give them the transparency and make them feel as though it's like they can make a well-informed decision. I think that's super, super important. But to your point, it's just like, yeah, when you get those checklists or followup material because when you're on a zoom call with somebody, you're like, "Hey, well, you do this..." Eyes to back of the head, right? But not everybody. If you're a nerd like me, I was like, "Oh, yeah, show me the list." I like the list, the checkboxes.

Brian: [00:33:12] You like the list. {laughter}

Scott Elchison: [00:33:12] But in general, I mean, it's a lot of information to take in. And we go back to the resource constraint that's in play, it's overwhelming.

Brian: [00:33:32] A lot of DTC has sort of moved to another conversation that I feel like has a lot of this idea of keeping up with the Joneses going on. And that's Web3.

Scott Elchison: [00:33:42] Oh, boy. All right.

Brian: [00:33:45] {laughter} You think a lot of attention and a lot of eyeballs and a lot of energy has gone into Web3 simply because there are a lot of VCs, big corporations, and money that is fueling this forward momentum?

Dan Griffin: [00:34:03] I think because of the pandemic, because of people staying at home, there was a lot of revenue that was lost in brick and mortar in some of these bigger places where VC money happened to be and there was a very easy shift. The technology had already started to grow to the point where that technology could be shoved forward for purchase purposes and let's make no mistake, venture capitalist money needs to see return. There's nothing wrong with that. We all invest. So the money went into something that was new, that was perfect. It was tailor-made for us all being at home. The problem that I think really manifested quickly is kind of the unregulated nature of purchasing things within W3, like NFTs, anything in the Metaverse. Of course, there's a shove because there's a new place to interact, but there is no oversight. And so we saw a lot of manipulation of these immediately, all of these scams and fraud pieces that we've talked about in the past. They just surfaced. So my view is cynical in that, yes, absolutely, tt was all shoved forward because the time was right.

Brian: [00:35:15] To bring it back to keeping up with the Joneses. Do you think a lot of people jumped on the bandwagon just because they saw big players dropping into it?

Dan Griffin: [00:35:23] There was fear of missing out. If I didn't, as a retailer purchase my spot, if I didn't go by my area. oh, my gosh. What if I missed out? No one knows. So what if I missed out? So the NFT, the manipulation market is one thing. But to your point, Brian, I'm kind of bringing it back, I think absolutely.

Brian: [00:36:00] The FOMO about that is a huge part of keeping up with the Joneses. And I think that that is actually fear in general, fear of straying away from the herd, fear of missing out on an opportunity. Fear actually drives a lot of purchasing.

Scott Elchison: [00:36:20] Yeah. A lot.

Brian: [00:36:21] And that is not a good thing.

Scott Elchison: [00:36:24] At my previous job, we had our own little technology chart and we said 1%, you know, the 9% in the 90%. For four and a half years, blockchain stayed solely in the 1% because for big brand advertisers it was just like, "There's nothing here for you yet." The pandemic happened and that went from 1%, I would say the technology is still probably in that 1%, but just the awareness went into like the 90%. All of a sudden everybody knew about this and we're flooded with questions about what's an NFT, what is a Web3, what is a Metaverse, and what is a cryptocurrency. And they're all uniquely different in the sense that like a cryptocurrency is a product of a blockchain, and a blockchain is a tool that's within the Web3 bucket. And a Metaverse in itself is actually outside of those three things because that's a new environment where it's just like a new interface where you might interact kind of virtually. And so all of that has been kind of blended together and it's just kind of creates this mess of just fantastic and I don't know, even kind of scary nature of like what's going on in the world of marketing. What's interesting is the big brands that I think jumped in, I wasn't surprised by. Some of them are known and do things like this because they are traveling at the pace of culture. This became really a big cultural conversation. It wasn't really about the blockchain, it was about what's happening in culture and how can I participate. And so you saw like Adidas, they did something with Cryptopunks and two other NFT projects. I think Bored Ape, Cryptopunks, and there was one other one. They made their own, I think coin or NFT that interacted with their app. But for them, I mean it was a perfect alignment because what was happening? It was fashion, it was easy for them to integrate directly into that kind of NFT marketplace and have a presence there, and have something to say there. I think Walmart bought space in Sandbox VR. All right. I mean, not sure what you're going to do with your space in Sandbox VR, but go for it, see what happens. And the bigger brands, I feel like that got in were doing it because that's what's what they normally do. And some just played better than others and everybody else that didn't know how to navigate it or how they buy into it just want to be part of the conversation.

Brian: [00:40:09] Yeah.

Scott Elchison: [00:40:09] And so, to that point, they might not have invested in it or done something on a deeper level, but they're like, "I want to be around this in some way, shape, or form." And they just threw some marketing at it because for them it's just like why not be part of the culture? There is a rather low downside. It's I think it goes back to the same reason why Wendy's opened a Discord. Everybody is talking about community, talking about Discord, they opened one up. And it was just like 50,000 trolls. I mean, it was wild. So I think that's the, to your point, the keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to Web3, yes, they saw Nike, Adidas, like these big brands that were always at the pace of culture and everybody's always jealous of. And the thing is what they were doing, if you look at it from a strategy, it made sense for them. It made sense. Whether it was Web3, blockchain, crypto or something new, they're very in tune with how culture works in their place in it. And that just shows. That's showed very, very well. It's all the brands that look on the outside are trying to keep up. They're like, "Well, how do we do that?" And it's just like, well, you can surround the content, you can try, but also you don't sometimes. It's like KFC made golden chicken nugget NFTs. So the answer is yes. And the way in which it kind of really translated was this mainly through like the conversation of culture. I think it's less about was Taco Bell keeping the QSR category? The idea here is that they weren't investing in blockchain technology, but they're like, how do we invest in the culture, in the fandoms around that? And that's where I saw from the brand level where they're like, people were all about it. They're like, there's attention, and where there's attention, there's value, there's money to be made. And so throw your brand at it, see what sticks. And again, I think what you see with Nike and Adidas was a bit more in tune with it.

Brian: [00:42:04] This gets into another trend that we have in the report, which is the sort of celebration of insincerity. There were a lot of brands that jumped in in a very like skinovation sort of way. It's like this half hearted, almost celebrated version of we're doing this, but we're not really doing this. And from one standpoint, there was definitely a lot of bandwagoning. There was a lot of bandwagoning. And from another standpoint, this was actually a moment for cultural engagement. That's not necessarily bandwagoning, that's just like strategic.

Dan Griffin: [00:42:37] But I wonder though, we're talking about keeping up with the Joneses. I think every brand we've mentioned in this that that did it well, they're known. How long could we see the stories of you know if there's one Adidas, there're 100 train wrecks that went down that didn't understand. When do they surface? I keep going back to the things about accountability, the things about driving value and knowing where to play. And this is this is a perfect example of know where you should maybe stretch and maybe maybe sit the bench type of thing. Because what Scott described, I just find fascinating because the Adidas, the Pepsis, they know the game they're playing, but a small 10-20 person merchant that oh my gosh, they don't have a clue the game they're playing.

Scott Elchison: [00:43:38] The counterpoint to that in my head is that again, where you are in your life cycle gives you different opportunities to innovate. And I think the big brands, they're making big splashes and for them, Adidas just doing a collab with the Cryptopunks and the Bored Apes, they go into the back end, they see this is actually worth this many impressions, which is equal to this many dollars, so that's like their calculation. They know we can make a huge PR splash. We get this engagement. It's like sometimes that's better than any paid media that they can do. A smaller brand can see all this look around and be like, "This is all fantastic and great. But like obviously for us, we have more resource constraints. We can't make a big splash, but we can sit back, observe and watch the see how this technology is resonating and being adopted and where it might fit in for us." And I think that goes back to the whole Shopify token gated commerce conversation around how the wallets are a new identity solution and like that could be a way to interact with individuals. That could be a new form of loyalty. There's opportunity there to think about really how the technology then starts to play into how you go to market with a product essentially, or how you interact with your customers.

Dan Griffin: [00:44:54] When we think about keeping up with the Joneses, Scott said it a few times, it's okay. Just be very smart in what you're doing and know where you are in your journey and understand what your buyer or your shopper's trying to get out of this. If we're talking purely about commerce and building a stack, know what your brand is. Stay on brand and make sure that you're creating fantastic outcomes. You can't go wrong. You might get out over your skis a little bit, but you can't go wrong if you always center yourself on that.

Announcer: [00:45:26] The Visions Podcast is brought to you by Future Commerce. You can find more episodes of this podcast and all Future Commerce properties at FutureCommerce.fm. Download our 100 page companion guide on cultural and consumer trends by Visiting Visions.Report. That's Visions.Report.

Recent Podcasts

Recent episodes

LATEST PODCASTS