Category : analysis

6 seconds

A while ago, I read an interesting article. I don’t know if it’s true, but I learned that the angle/shot of a typical tv production changes once every six seconds (on average). This includes parts where the cut is really fast (1-2 seconds) and parts where it takes much longer (10-12 seconds).

I know this ‘6 seconds rule’ isn’t a law and the speed of a broadcast depends on the speed of the program. Nonetheless, I sometimes try to stimulate the team and myself to move faster by urging them (and myself) to reach this arbitrary goal of six seconds per shot/angle on average. Most often Always, we fail doing so (in our defense, sometimes we get really close). But with this video (above), I think we might reach our ‘goal’. Let’s see…

Duration: 225 seconds / Number of shots: 30

So, 225 divided by 30 equals… ehm… let’s see… 7,5. Aargh… I guess we have to try again next year…

UPDATE: It turns out we did reach the ‘goal’ of 6 seconds per shot/angle, but not with this clip. Instead, it’s this video, which has a duration of 187 seconds and has 32 cuts. This is an average of 5,8 seconds per shot. Wow!

Too close to call?

For some reason, every self respecting journalist believes the race between Obama and Romney is very close or maybe even too close to call. But is this really the case?

Some national polls predict Obama will be the winner, some say Romney has the upper hand. And all major news outlets claim these national polls really matter… But it doesn’t take long for the very same news outlets to change their mind and state that national polls don’t matter at all. Why not? Well, obviously it’s all about the twelve swing states, or were there only nine? No wait, there’re just five. How could I be wrong about that!

This means there’s only one fact left… it’s all about Ohio.

Right?!

Nope, that’s not the case either. It turns out Obama has a solid 5% lead in this state.

Most people know it’s virtually impossible for Mitt Romney to get to the needed 270 electoral votes without Ohio. This means… wait for it… I can now officially project Barack Obama to win the 2012 elections and continue to be president of the United States.

“We’ve lost our tolerance for complexity”

Because of the Internet and big-box stores, we get access to a lot of information, products and services, thus giving us more choice and freedom. While this sounds great, it isn’t always. Since we have more choice, choosing anything gets more difficult. A lot of complexity is added.

Last week Ron Johnson presented the new retail concept for JC Penney, a large department store. He said shoppers are done with wading through “an endless sea of racks,” which he believes is a larger industry trend. “In a world where the product we want is just a key-word search away, we’ve lost our tolerance for complexity,” Johnson said.

Yesterday I read something about Visa trying to popularize electronic payments (by smartphone). The report noted that “Visa’s hoping to make itself the go-to point for this solution, so ‘handset manufacturers don’t have to deal with 26.000 banks.'”

This is interesting. So just as JC Penney wants to get rid of an endless sea of racks, Visa wants to get rid of an endless sea of banks. In both cases, they’re trying to remove complexity for it’s consumers. In case of JC Penney, it’s us, the average shopper. In case of Visa, it’s businesses.

I’m curious which endless sea of … is next, and will have its complexity removed.

“A great department store… if it was 1995”

“They toured me through some of the ‘new’ JC Penney stores. I closed my eyes and realized this is a great department store… if it was 1995.” It’s a pretty bad thing to say about a store. And it’s not just anybody who said this. No, it’s JC Penney’s own CEO, Ron Johnson.

I guess things must be really bad when your CEO says these kinds of things about your own company. This leaves me with two questions. 1) Who is this guy and 2) what should a great department store look like?

1) Who is Ron Johnson?

He’s the guy who pioneered the concept of the Apple Store and the Genius Bar at Apple. Under Johnson’s direction, Apple’s retail stores achieved a record level of growth, exceeding a billion dollars in annual sales within two years of their debut. Last year, he left Apple to join JC Penney, a US department store, as its new CEO. He wants to achieve the same with JC Penney as he did with Apple.

I think it’s safe to assume this guy knows something about business and retail. And, more importantly, he knows what to do in order to turn JC Penney into a great modern department store. That leaves us with question two.

2. What does a great department store look like?

Huge assortments and one-stop shopping – Many ‘experts’ are confident the current retail model is broken. Physical stores will be replaced by online versions. Within years, all we do is shop online. Jonson disagrees. He quickly points out people thought the same when Apple launched the Apple Store. Which turned out not to be the case.

Physical stores are still the primary way people acquire merchandise, and he thinks that will be true 50 years from now. Ron Johnson sees no reason why department stores can’t flourish. They can be people’s favorite place to shop. They’ve got all these strategic advantages like the lowest cost of real estate, exceptional access to merchandise and scale to create enormous marketing power. Besides, people like stores with huge assortments and one-stop shopping. It’s just the way departments stores look, their lack of imagination and the way they engage customers.

Specialty stores – When people want a great product, they visit specialty stores like H&M, Nike or Zara. Shoppers are done with wading through “an endless sea of racks.” This is not just true for JC Penney. It’s a larger industry trend. Based on research about American’s shopping habits, it’s clear that specialty stores work. “In a world where the product we want is just a key-word search away, we’ve lost our tolerance for complexity,” Johnson said.

That’s why JC Penney’s plan includes creating 100 specialty stores within the department stores. The move expands on what Penney has already done, creating store-within-a-store areas where sales per square meter are three times higher than the average of the rest of Penney. Within four years, all department stores will be completely redone.

Main street and Town Square – The sea of outdated merchandising fixtures from the 1980’s will be replaced by a hundred specialty stores, essentially creating a small town. Just like any town, this means a street is needed. And that’s exactly what Ron Jonson created when he imagined the Main Street concept. Main Street will be the aisles that guide you around the store, passing all of these specialty stores. This Main Street showcases trend-right brands and so called experiences. The comparison with a local town doesn’t stop here. In the center of the store there will be a Town Square. What will this Town Square be? That’s still a secret. All we know is that Johnson said it contained “truly innovative thinking” and will be revealed in 2013.

Just like Apple

While analysts think these changes are a “revolutionary approach to retailing” and “it will have other retailers waking up,” I think you could have seen these changes coming months ago. Because this approach to retail is essentially the same as Ron Jonson did when he pioneered the Apple Stores a decade ago. And Johnson freely admits he’s ‘stealing’ Apple’s floor plans from its retail stores.

Apple stores are split in two, Johnson explained. The “Red Zone” is where customers discover new products and the “family room” is where returning customers come to learn something new or fix their products, like the Genius Bar. This obviously is very similar to the Main Street and Town Square concept he imagined for JC Penney.

“It seems like change takes place over night, but it really doesn’t,” Johnson said. “Something I learned while at Apple is ‘Every journey begins with just one step.'”

Nachtwacht Night Watch Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

A museum is all about size and the right atmosphere

I took this photo in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. In my view, it depicts what a museum should be. So, what are the ingredients for a great 21st century museum?

Size of the museum

Size matters. Very small or very large museums will attract most visitors. Why? These museums simply stand out. And that’s important for today’s Facebook/Twitter generation.

Size of art

Size matters. Very small or very large paintings fascinates people most. Above you’ll see the Night Watch (Dutch: Nachtwacht) by Rembrandt van Rijn. It’s 3,6 x 4,3 meters (yep, that’s huge!). These kids love it. Why? Because it’s something you can’t see at home or in a textbook. I guess it’s the same reason why people continue to watch movies in cinemas. The size of the screen is simply bigger. It’s an experience your HD tv doesn’t offer, so you’re willing to pay for it.

Famous artists

Sadly this is true. In the Rijksmuseum, more people enjoyed the paintings of Rembrandt van Rijn and it’s famous Dutch colleagues compared to paintings of lesser known artists. But I guess the same is true for other art forms like movies, books, et cetera. A famous author, director or actor simply attracts viewers/buyers more easily.

Mysteriously famous paintings

Why do people want visit the Louvre in Paris just to see the Mona Lisa? Or why do people want to see the Night Watch (Nachtwacht) in the Rijksmuseum? Because these paintings are famous. Why are these paintings famous? Because an aura of mystery surrounds these paintings. And that’s something we like. Why is it something we like? Because it’s easy to blog/Twitter/Facebook about, since everyone knows what you’re talking about.

The right atmosphere

So, what’s the right atmosphere for a museum? It depends. It’s not about long corridors with paintings anymore. People want to sit down, relax and enjoy the atmosphere. As pictured above, the Rijksmuseum offers these two kids the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the Night Watch. A day at the museum is like a day at the beach. It’s about the opportunity to escape a fast-paced lifestyle. A break. It’s not just about paintings anymore.

It’s not about modern vs. old

Some people are convinced new generations aren’t interested in old paintings anymore. In order to attract younger visitors, museums should display modern art.

Wrong!

It’s not about modern versus old art. The photo (top) proves this. In this case, the museum offered these kids the right atmosphere and a very large and mysterious painting. These kids sat down for a pretty long time. In fact, most adults already moved on. These kids didn’t. That’s why this photo depicts what a museum should be like.