Desi Twitter has the best viral money memes. How many have you seen?

What do you think about this?

What do you think about this?

The internet is a crazy, crazy place. A cursory glance at the microblogging site every morning will provide enough fodder for your entertainment throughout the day. For example, stuff that the internet is obsessing over since Wednesday are money memes.

It’s quite apt considering the fact it is that time of the month during which your bank balance can appear demoralising enough. But there is light at the end of the tunnel with salary being credited soon. Until then, millenials are busy explaining their current situation with the help of the money meme that basically features a collage of two images – a wad of cash in one hand and a hundred rupee note in the other.

We spotted some memes on Twitter that describe desi situations perfectly as the internet is drawing references ranging from daily expenses (you know what we mean, right?) to wedding rituals. Of course, low balance in the bank account is the most cited inference.

[“source=indiatoday”]

‘The relationship between brands and consumers has flipped’: Insights from the Glossy Summit

Image result for ‘The relationship between brands and consumers has flipped’: Insights from the Glossy SummitLast week at The Glossy Summit: Future of Fashion and Luxury in Miami, fashion brands, both big and small, came together to speak frankly about the challenges they’re facing and what they are doing to evolve. From the main stage where speakers outlined their companies’ strategies to small working groups where attendees sought guidance from their peers, the event was full of modern retail insight. Here’s what we learned:

The power is with the consumer
On the minds of many of the brands in attendance was how the power to control the fashion conversation has shifted to consumers.

– Consumers, not brands, now dictate trends and have more knowledge than they have ever had before. They also have a huge number of options of where to buy their desired item. This has led to a fundamental shift in how brands engage with their customers, making reactivity and flexibility a core skill for the modern fashion brand.

– Brands like Universal Standard have worked extensively to make sure that their sizes are as comprehensive as possible, ensuring that every customer has a wide array of options. This required a significant amount of rethinking the standard fashion production schedule from design to manufacturing. It also created new ways of manufacturing fabric that could accommodate the brand’s extended sizing.

The bottom line: Brands need to listen to what consumers are saying and react accordingly. Through data collection, direct engagement with customers through social media, and wear testing, the power that consumers hold can be leveraged for a brand’s success.

Convenience is king
As consumers gain more control and power over the fashion industry, one way that brands are catering to them is through an increased focus on convenience.

– Since consumers have many options of where to shop, the slightest bit of friction can send them looking for an alternative. Brands need to make sure that they are digitally savvy and treat customers to the most seamless experience possible in order to lure them away from competitors.

– Charles Gorra, founder of Rebag, spoke about how his resale company courts two different types of customers, buyers and sellers, with opposite interests. Maximizing convenience is the best way to satisfy both.

– This challenge is different for bigger brands than for smaller ones. Large brands have the advantage of scale and resources, yet they also are more complicated and have more moving parts. Smaller brands do not always have the resources for a customer experience with the shiniest bells and whistles, but they are able to react more quickly.

The bottom line: When customers have a hundred shopping options at any given moment, they will take the path of least resistance.

Brands are taking things in-house
Alongside the shift to direct-to-consumer, companies are rethinking big parts of their business and wondering if they can handle them themselves. At the Glossy Summit, attendees at Monday’s town hall expressed doubt that they needed someone else to run things for them.

– One speaker spoke about using the same PR team for nearly 12 years with diminishing returns. When they eventually dropped the PR team and took it in-house, they did not see any noticeable decline in ROI.

– Laura Dowling of Digital Brands Group spoke at length about taking all of their influencer relations in-house. While a few other attendees said that working with an influencer agency affords opportunities and reach that would not be attainable otherwise, Dowling was not the only one in the audience who believed that an influencer agency was increasingly irrelevant.

The bottom line: Brands should not think that they can handle everything themselves, necessarily, but it increasingly seems like companies are feeling more skeptical about middlemen.

Speaker highlights 
Shira Suveyke, Shopbop President 

– Shopbop has fine-tuned its influencer strategy over the last two years — first, by moving the involved duties to a dedicated team versus marketing staffers focused on other responsibilities. “This ‘little thing,’ that was growing super fast and was driving a lot of revenue, was getting ignored,” said Suveyke. The company also started giving influencers “total creative freedom,” which was a difficult adjustment for the in-house creative team, and moved from working with macro-influencers exclusively to micro-influencers and nano-influencers.

– High conversion is not a KPI for influencer campaigns. Instead, the company is looking at engagement, then reach, and it’s weighing campaigns’ effectiveness and efficiency by looking at cost-per-engagement. Influencer marketing is now part of the brand’s marketing budget versus its performance marketing budget. “We see it as an opportunity to build the Shopbop brand on a social platform, and we believe that has a halo effect of downward revenue,” said Suveyke.

– The retailer just launched its  360-degree, content-fueled campaign called “The Summer of Shopbop.” Its brand marketing and creative teams traveled with eight influencers to Lake Como to create content around its travel-inspired story of the season. “It resonates with our customer when they have an affinity with the influencer, rather than Shopbop pushing the product,” said Suveyke.

Laura Dowling, Digital Brands Group CMO
– DSTLD’s (which is part of holding group Digital Brands Group’s portfolio)  millennial customer base values ethical behavior and transparent brand messaging, and DSTLD is an audience-driven brand. The mission of the denim and leather company is to distill its shoppers’ wardrobes down to essentials by updating the quality and consistency of the pieces, said Dowling. Unlike other brands, its sustainability message is not centered on the changeover of styles but rather on the lack of waste the brand is producing. “Quality equates to longevity,” she said.

– In the name of transparency and authenticity, the brand recently made changes: It has moved its production from Asia to Europe to ensure it is using mills that are ethical and sustainable, both in the materials they use and also in the radius in which they operate. “Our carbon footprint is as small as possible,” said Dowling. In addition, it has added a quality control step to production, enabling it to have just 3% waste, when the industry standard is 7%.

– To amplify its message for credibility, Dowling said the brand leans into press, letting industry publications tell its story. It also taps into relevant opportunities to amplify the story. On Earth Day, it launched an education-based marketing campaign for eco-conscious consumers on how best to wash jeans. And because music has been woven into the brand’s marketing since inception, it hosted a sustainability-centered activation at Coachella.

Nate Checketts, Rhone co-founder
– Checketts broke down the company’s data collection process into three steps. “One, you have to gather the data; two, you have to organize the data; and three, you have to take some actionable insight from it,” he said. “Most companies are stuck on part one, and for DTC brands, there are so many ingestion points of data that it can be hard to sort through them all of them.”

– In addition to the regular channels for data collection, like points of purchase either in Rhone’s DTC or wholesale business, the company also collects data from some out-of-the-box, third-party sources. Weather on the day of a purchase, the performance of stocks on a given day and other data points can help paint the picture of what a brand needs to know. According to Checketts, it all comes down to sorting through what’s relevant and what isn’t.

– The data collection and feedback used can also be a selling point for the company. While older generations may be less likely to appreciate how the data collected is used to improve their experiences, Rhone’s younger customers expect it. Whenever the company launches a product that was designed heavily with feedback from consumers, Rhone highlights that in its marketing, said Checketts.

Overheard
“If your advisers and investors are telling you that it’s too early to be thinking about and using data to improve your business, then you need different advisers and investors.”

“Going direct-to-consumer is definitely about brand control a bit, especially when you’re a new designer. You have a small assortment. On a shelf, you can only tell so much of your story. In pop-ups and on social media, you can speak to your customer a lot more.”

I believe in the power of full-frontal marketing, really thinking about what we need and driving understanding through to conversion. To do that, the best way possible, you have to lean into all the channels available to you.”

“If you look at, like, Marc Jacobs, that kind of old luxury, it used to be that designers did what they wanted and the women followed. What we’re trying to do is the exact opposite. They decide, and we follow.”

“We were able to start our direct business pretty early on, our first website opened in 2003. We’ve been able to go from 100% wholesale to 60% wholesale, 40% direct. Our ideal split is flipped, 40% wholesale and 60% direct. That’s where we are trying to be.”

Challenge Board

[“source=glossy”]

Algeria economy: Where has all the money gone?

Image result for Algeria economy: Where has all the money gone?As Algeria’s oil wealth dries up, people are demanding to know where the money has gone.

Corruption, youth unemployment and inequality have been at the centre of protests against the 20 years of rule by Algeria’s president, 81-year-old Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Despite agreeing not to stand for another term, Algerians have little faith in the business elite, military and politicians running the country.

The country’s wealth has been squandered. It had currency reserves of $179bn in December 2014, but that has shrunk to $79.8bn.

Rather than using the oil and petrol wealth to diversify the economy, more than a fifth of Algeria’s budget is used for subsidies.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says Algeria’s oil and petrol revenues account for 95 percent of its export earnings and 60 percent of its budget. But oil prices have been falling and the country’s oil and petrol production has also been in decline due to a lack of investment – meaning there isn’t the money to fill the coffers.

Unemployment in Algeria is running at 11.1 percent. But youth unemployment stands at 26.4 percent for the under 30s, who make up two-thirds of the country’s 41-million population.

Taieb Hafsi, strategy and society professor of management at the HEC Montreal, talks to Counting the Cost about the issues behind the protests and the challenges facing Algeria’s oil-reliant economy.

“The problem with oil is that it has generated a rent-seeking behaviour … and its not just the people at the very top who are rent-seeking. Bureaucracy is rent-seeking, private firms are rent-seeking, even the population is rent-seeking. So you have this incredibly lazy demeanour and of course that rent-seeking leads to corruption. As a result, if you will, it [oil] is a real curse … When you think about trying to diversify away from oil … then you have to realise that business is a source of power, so the government has been trying to keep it under control,” Hafsi explains.

“Algeria is one of the few countries in the world where you have to get permission to invest your money. No market behaviour, no discipline, so the result is no development … it’s no surprise. What’s happening in Algeria goes against all the norms of economic behaviour that we know about.”

However, Hafsi believes there is still a cause for optimism for Algeria’s economic future.

“The Algerian economy is really paradoxical … it’s very poorly managed and seemingly doomed, but also at the same time you see some very thriving segments,” he says.

“The real economy is mostly informal. About 60 percent of the economy is informal and it is not accounted for. How do firms actually survive in this very hostile environment? There are smaller firms all over the country trying to remain below the radar, if you will, but … succeeding. They are doing very well … They don’t rely on the state, they want to be excellent and often they become competitive on the world market. So in a sense, there is something happening bottom up that, in my opinion, is very promising.”

What will Rome get from Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative?

Britain’s decision to join China’s challenger to the World Bank drew a quick rebuke from Washington.

The US claimed the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank would extend Beijing’s soft power.

Three years on, the decision by Italy’s new populist government to sign up for investment from Beijing has raised concerns in Western capitals.

The US National Security Council warned: Endorsing the Belt and Road Initiativelends legitimacy to China’s predatory approach to investment and will bring no benefits to the Italian people.

Those concerns are already playing out. China’s largess is entrapping vulnerable nations in debt. You may recall Sri Lanka fell behind with payments and had to hand over a vital seaport that had been built with Chinese loans, on a 99-year lease.

Pakistan’s attempts to negotiate an IMF loan have been complicated by Washington’s unwillingness for the money to be used to pay back Beijing’s loans to Pakistan. And in Djibouti where the US has a military base, China opened its first overseas base. At the same time, the country’s debts have soared to 80 percent of gross domestic product from 50 percent.

In Italy’s case, it has a debt of 2.3 trillion euro ($2.6 trillion) and pays 64 billion euro ($72.5bn) every year in interest payments. Should it get into trouble, the European bailout fund would not be able to save the country.

China’s President Xi Jinping hopes the two countries can work together on everything from ports to telecoms and pharmaceuticals to football.

But what is at stake? And what will Rome get from the Belt and Road Initiative? Greg Swenson, founding partner of Brigg MacAdam, talks to Counting the Cost.

“It’s fine that they are reaching out. China is a great market for them … but it’s important to keep in mind, their first relationship should be with the EU and also with the US, given the membership in NATO and in the G7. So I think that they’ve gone a little overboard. Is it the end of the world? I don’t think so,” says Swenson.

“The EU is the number one market for China in terms of exports and China is the number two market for the EU, and notably, the US is the number one market for the EU, so I think Italy just has to do a better job of being diplomatic with their allies before … over-reaching out to China. But it is quite natural to want to sell products.”

According to Swenson “just embracing China, borrowing more money is not the answer” to Italy’s economic woes.

“We will see what happens. I hope there’s a bit of a … pullback on the part of Italy. The Investment Bank that’s announced is controversial, [but] … I’m not that worried about it but I do think it’s a moment for the EU to embrace their strategic partners, notably the US, and really make some sort of pushback against this expansion by China, both militarily and economically. And I think that will work out and I think that the EU and the US will win.”

[“source=aljazeera”]

China’s Didi Has Its #DeleteUber Moment After Passenger Deaths

China's Didi Has Its #DeleteUber Moment After Passenger Deaths

Thousands of Chinese users have pledged to delete the country’s most popular ride-hailing app after another woman was allegedly murdered while using its Hitch car-pooling service.

Didi Chuxing came under fire from netizens, state media and regulators alike over the weekend after the customer was allegedly killed despite an earlier passenger complaining about the driver’s behaviour. In two statements on the matter, the Beijing-based startup has deeply apologized, pledged to overhaul its services and suspended two senior executives at the company.

But the latest death – the second in three months after a flight attendant was allegedly murdered in May – has spawned fury among China’s web users, with many taking to social media and saying they will delete the app. It comes at a critical time for the country’s most valuable startup as it faces rising competition from fellow tech giants and attempts to become a global ride-hailing giant capable of taking on Uber on the world stage.

Chinese actress Wang Xiaochen posted screenshots of her phone to her 9 million followers on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter, as she deleted the Didi app with a caption saying “goodbye!” The viral update received 285,000 ‘likes’ and generated over 40,000 comments – many of which were followers showing proof they’d done the same.

Others took their complaints about Didi’s safety directly to the startup’s own Weibo account, where they commented on the company’s statements. One popular reply that garnered 63,000 ‘likes’ said that while they couldn’t stop Didi from making a fortune, they could uninstall the app.

The push to get rid of Didi has echoes of the #DeleteUber campaign that hit Uber Technologies. in 2017 amid a series of scandals and missteps at the US ride-hailing giant.

Didi declined to comment beyond its earlier statements.

The wave of high-profile deletions are unlikely to remove Didi from the top of China’s ride-hailing market. Didi said it has more than 30 million daily active users while data from research firm QuestMobile estimates that its nearest rival Dida Chuxing has 982,000.

The world’s fourth-most valuable tech startup Meituan Dianping, which is preparing to list in Hong Kong later this year, is also ramping up its campaign to provide ride-hailing services in key markets such as Shanghai.

[“Source-gadgets.ndtv”]