Monthly Archives

July 2016

Phone Licking — Weird or Innovative?

By | Be Honest, Inspire Ideas, Take Risks | 34 Comments


For the last three weeks, we’ve been posting blogs about Millennials, Gen X, Gen Y, and Gen Z. What makes each generation unique and how can we understand them better? Well the first hurdle, is knowing what the heck a Gen Y’er is. And that’s a more complicated question than you might imagine.

Google searches are great if you’re researching a topic that the Internet generally agrees on. Defining generations is not one of those topics. Newsweek, Time magazine and The New York Times all have different ideas of what a Millennial is.

Here’s a quote from Wikipedia:

Demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and use the mid-1990s to the early 2000s as final birth years for the Millennial Generation.

Not exactly definitive.

At a certain point consistency trumps accuracy. So I’m just going to call it. Here is a list of generational definitions. If you think this isn’t right, feel free to judge, or even send documentation to the contrary. It will be a superfluous effort as I’m not changing it after this. It is carved in stone as the non- Gen X,Y, and Z generation would say.

Gen X: Those born between 1965 and 1979
Gen Y: Those born between 1980 and 1995 (Also known as Millennials!)
Gen Z: Those born in 1996 or later

Now that we’ve got that cleared up, let’s hear from our resident Millennial Sullivan Sednek-Simes. (He was born in 1993. Solidly Millennial territory.)

Phone Licking — Weird or Innovative?

By Sullivan Sednek-Simes

As a social media junkie (at least I can admit it) I’m constantly inundated with people’s ideas on basically three things – social issues, food, and popular culture. With Generation Z’ers basically replacing their binkies with iPhones, I’m interested to see how coming generations process and react to hot button issues.

Social media provides a SoapBox (shameless plug, that’s the name of the company I work for) for people to state their ideas and opinions with a real-time feed of reactions to those ideas. I think about the future a lot. Most of the time, I keep those less tangible thoughts to myself. The opportunity to guest blog seemed like a better platform to do some of this thinking out loud –less risky than my Twitter feed. So here go some of my predictions about the future based on pure conjecture. My own person time capsule (and way less messy than digging a hole in the ground and burying some tube).

Will Social Issues Continue to be Influenced by Social Media?
With this presidential election being as wild as it’s been, with new and not so new voters viewing and interacting in real-time (tweet) with candidates, we have seen a tremendous change in society’s view of a potential president or societal issue. I find myself wondering, will Google start imbedding brain trackers to test people’s opinions on a political candidate? Will gun stores be able to differentiate a customers purchasing intent through the use of technology? Or am I just getting too far ahead of myself like how people predicted the future was going to be in the 50s?

Is Food Sharing, Food Caring?
I’m looking forward to the day where we can virtually taste the food pictures that people post. How amazing would that be? Then someone else can start the “virtual” diet business. What if restaurants could potentially incentivize users to post their favorite dishes in order to give taste tests to a larger audience. You know the girl who posts pictures of every meal? Probably your friend’s girlfriend, that you follow just to be nice? Imagine being able to taste her shrimp scampi. With virtual tasting there would finally be a value in posting pictures of food. Until that day I’m stuck doing this.

Celebrities In Our Homes?
Holograms. Everywhere. I envision a future where holographic robots of our favorite celebrities can be programmed to help us with daily tasks. I can’t wait for a Kanye West hologram to help me pick out my outfit or to have Leonardo DiCaprio advise me on what movie to watch. Celebrities could then tap into the location of their hologram streams and target certain performances to certain fan bases. In less than 10 years we have transitioned from being able to see 2Pac live in concert, to a 2Pac hologram live at Coachella. All Eyez on you Generation Z.

We as millennials will have the chance to fuel the acceptance of technology by becoming early adopters of autonomous cars, and virtual reality. Generation Z will barely remember a world without these things. They will be the ones to change our world in ways that seem impossible now.

YouTube is the New BoobTube

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others | 3 Comments

The Trilogy is Ending

Is Online Video the Most Important Cultural Force Since the Motion Picture? Part 3

Ok,Ok,Ok. I get that we keep talking about this. My secret hope is that you all get sick of hearing me harp on this and take action.

If you missed part 1, Is Online Video the Most Important Cultural Force Since the Motion Picture? Click here.
If you missed part 2, Is Online Video the Most Important Cultural Force Since the Motion Picture? Part 2 Click here.

So, what have we learned?

If you want capture the hearts (and therefore the opinions, loyalty and share of wallet) of Gen Y/X, offer them experiences. Cash only goes so far. Think experiences. Concert tickets, Meet & Greets, Custom content, Warp walls (American Ninja Warrior anyone?), A day with your favorite social media star, free products (if you can get a hold of some Kylie Jenner lip kits you may just score an audience of 5 million trying to “win” it – of course you have to be savvier than the kids to actual purchase one in the 1/10th of a millisecond before they sell out). Point being, get creative. PS – Don’t steal any of my ideas. If you do, you have to split the audience you attract with me 50/50.

In the world of social media, the next cultural phenomena could literally be hours away. There may be no way of predicting these things, but you can be ready to adapt when they hit. Be hyper aware. Entrench yourselves in the Gen Y/X world – and I don’t mean reading newspaper articles (online OR print) about them. I mean talk to them. Experience what they experience first-hand. Instead of being quick to judge, try being quick to understand.

Market Researchers, brands and hey, even politicians, should use email as a last resort for reaching Gen X/Y. Within the next couple of years, it will basically be as effective as using smoke signals to be rescued from a remote island. You can choose to wither away in the harsh conditions of remote island, or try to avoid being stranded all together. Your choice. Why wait? Start to change now.

Social media stars have the power to entrance their audience within seconds. One short YouTube video, Instagram image, tweet, video, vlog, live stream, or SnapChat, can amass millions of eyeballs in an instant and win unwavering loyalty from their audience. Advertising, product endorsements and your average joe teenager talking into an iphone camera in their messy bedroom has an obscene impact.

We have no way to know what is next. If we did, or if I did anyway, I wouldn’t be writing this BLOG. I do know, we need to be open, less critical and genuinely curious about what is happening around us.

I was just trying to write the end of this BLOG post and my daughter just walked in to my office. She came in to announce” you know how Dad won’t buy me an apple computer? Well, if I win this contest, I get a gold MacBook Air.”
The contest is YouTuber Bunny (she can be found at Grav3yardgirl on YouTube) automatically entering her subscribers into a Back-to-School giveaway contest. If you are not a subscriber, there is a link in her bio that takes you to a website with other ways to enter and subscribe to her channel. Bunny has 7,172,976 subscribers as of 8:03 PM on July 19th. So there you have it.

Is Online Video the Most Important Cultural Force Since the Motion Picture? Part 2

By | Create Value, Have Fun, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion | 2 Comments

True or False – I have a 9-year-old daughter who has no clue what I do for a living.
That would be true. Despite basically living and breathing SoapBox for the past 4 years, she listens very little to what is actually going on. She has gathered (through osmosis I suppose) that SoapBox is a company. She knows the staff, loves to come to the office and even has her own name plate on an office door. She has no interest in what SoapBox actually does. She will likely never, ever, ever sign up for a Market Research panel in her life. Even if I bribed her. Even if she knows the owner.

True or False – My daughter is only 9, therefore what she does, has no relevance or impact on my business.
False. I have recently come to understand that this bundle of sassiness, is like a golden ticket to the inner world of the next generation. Instead of ignoring what she is doing and suggesting she go play outside until the street lights come on and or let her know she can quench any thirst from the garden hose, I now know that it is time to pay attention – close attention to her world. The world of online video content consumption, the world of overnight adoption of phenomena (Pokemon anyone?), the world of learning about brands and products via video being streamed (in some cases live) from some kid’s bedroom. Online crowds are like a herd of zombies changing direction on a whim.

True or False – Kids waste too much time on social media apps and they are just distracting kids from what they should be focusing on, and therefore have no relevance or impact.
Could. Not. Be. More. False. As a Market Researcher, I read article after article about how to attract and engage with Gen Y and Millennials. As researchers, we seem to have a natural tendency to analyze and assess from afar. Let’s all KEEP trying to figure out how to email these consumers an invitation to a market research survey – it’s not going to work (more on that in Part 3).
Instead, let’s try to immerse ourselves in the culture and learn how to adopt to their world instead of trying to bribe them to adopt to our world. I hear savvy researchers throwing around “fancy” terms like social listening and text analytics, yet we are still missing the big picture. Things are moving FAST and as researchers, we just keep trying to catch up. We need to be part of the movement and not just trying to understand the movement once it has happened. While you are sitting around trying to figure that out, a new “movement” has already taken flight.

True or False – Facebook wiping out MySpace was just a fluke. social media apps don’t usually take over the world at that magnitude.
False. Granted Facebook has 1.65 billion active monthly users. But there are apps, albeit on a smaller scale, gaining popularity in very, very short time spans. started in October of 2014 and is currently at 60 million users overall. Oh, and one 15-year old girl, has 10.3 million fans. Snapchat, once fondly known as the sexting app was created in April of 2011. By October 2012, there were 10 million users and by May 2015, 100 million users. This tool is a way for Gen Y and Millennials to actually communicate with each other.
YouNow wasn’t even talked about much at last year’s VidCon event. This year, it launched unknown artists into stardom (and even has pretty crappy playback) and 100 million user sessions per month. Periscope launched in 2015, was then acquired by Twitter and now has 10 million registered accounts and 1.9 daily active users. I am sure someone will want to argue my stats – maybe they are off a bit or have different sources citing different numbers. Point being, my guess is many of you did not even know of these things.
Let’s all start to pay attention. Instead of judging and reminiscing about the good old days, we need to be hyper aware of the present. I literally can’t get enough. I am addicted to learning more, much in the same way my daughter MUST post 10 new Music.lys in a single day. I can’t wait for VidCon 2017. Oh, and did you know there is also Beautycon and TwitchCon and VidSummit and VloggerFair. You know where to find me…

Is Online Video the Most Important Cultural Force Since the Motion Picture?

By | Create Value, Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Take Risks | 5 Comments

The world has gone mad over Millennials. In the pursuit to understand this misunderstood generation, the problem has expanded to GenY. Who are these people? What makes them tick? What will the future be like with them in charge? How do we employ these people?  How do we sell to this generation? And as a market researcher…how do we reach, engage and get feedback from this majorly sought-after demographic?

I have read a lot of articles, predications and assumptions about Millennials and GenYers. I have totally fallen into the trap of reading article after article trying to figure it out (whatever IT is). I have one of these GenYers living in my house and trust me, repeating over and over “you are so lucky” or “we didn’t have x,y,z growing up” or whatever annoying things I say, that I swore I would never say, do not help me understand any better.

My daughter begs me a lot. For all kinds of stuff. About 9 months ago, she started in on me about going to VidCon. VidCon? What. The. Heck. Is. VidCon.? After a little research (the old fashioned Google way) I discovered that VidCon is an annual event billed as the event “For People Who Love Online Video”.

Turns out that this year’s VidCon would be three solid days of a massive gathering of Millennials and GenYers who are creators, consumers and lovers of this massive cultural force of video content platforms. A cult-like gathering of more than 21K VidCon attendees, ended up making me the best Mom ever (for like 3 or 4 hours at a time) and was an amazing, inside look at the generation so many crave to understand.

I dragged SoapBox’s Marketing Director along and we entrenched ourselves in this underground culture for three whole days. It was overwhelming, exhausting, educational and massively impressive. Thankfully, we had our 9-year-old tour guide to constantly explain to us what they heck was going on, who the people were and why people were going insane. Every social media and content app you have ever heard of was there. Plus, a whole slew of ones we had never heard of.

At first we were confused why brands like Kia, HGTV, Adobe, Marriott and Canon (just to name a few) were there with insane immersive experience booths. No one was selling anything. They were either giving things away (not even asking you to sign up for anything) or offering a cool, interactive experience. Nickelodeon had a fun zone equivalent to a carnival inside the convention center. Within a few hours, Adriana and I realized we had struck gold. These companies were there to solidify their brand with these key demographic. I am pretty sure we were the only researchers there, and we were about to get a front seat at the stuff we didn’t even know we needed to research. Oh, and not one time were we asked for an email address or to “sign up” to receive an offer.

GenY is moving en masse from app to app, and many of us have never even heard of these platforms. There were three learning tracks and back-to-back sessions coupled with concerts, signings and VR experiences. You could run up the American Ninja Warrior warp wall or attend session after session run by a generation of people who are behind the online video/content consumption. We heard from an extremely insightful and humble business tycoon who basically became an overnight sensation on an app that barely existed a year ago. Oh, and by the way, she is 15, goes by the name of Baby Ariel and has amassed 10.3 million followers on an app called

As researchers working with leading brands, we need to immerse ourselves in this culture – not sit idly on the sides trying to learn from the periphery. It’s time to look at things through a new view. In our case, it was the view of a 9-year-old. I am super stoked to share some of our takeaways over the next couple weeks. We will share our experiences and some of the new tools we learned at VidCon. So stay tuned for a super cool, in depth view of this new cultural phenomenon…..

Also, this will be a multimedia experience.