Who are the real tastemakers of the future?

imagesSomeone sent me the article in Fast Company with the title “female shoppers no longer trust ads or celebrity endorsements”.  The data is out there that women control 85% of the purchases made online and that includes clothing, tickets, computers, food and more.  Kind of makes you wonder why anyone would invest in an ecommerce start-up that doesn’t have a woman at the helm.  Women control the economy of the internet.

What we are learning and again not surprising is that the millennials are not swayed by advertising or celebrity endorsements.  They follow social media and their decisions are based on recommendations from friends or people that they follow.  Social responsible products are also high up there on the list.  We will see more companies give a piece of their revenues to social good.  We will also see companies create opportunities within their walls for their employees to give back such as a day building homes for under-served communities or a project for a non-profit etc.

This generation group up with ad placement in everything.  They also grew up in the heyday of celebrities that were hailed from chefs to musicians to actors as a tastemaker to trust when it came to purchases.  I am happy to see that it is waning.

When our kids were young, early teens and tweens, we’d go to a movie many Friday and Saturday nights as a family and out to dinner.  I remember walking out of one film almost a decade ago and Jessica said to me “did you see all those product placements in the film?  Lots of coke.”  She then asked me “how much do you think they all paid for that?”.  I was floored that she was so acutely aware of the products being pushed at her at that age.

That placement, those fake tastemakers, start to make brands feel unauthentic.  The long tail of that is a generation of new products are being made and old products are losing market share as each day passes.  As an investor, it certainly makes you think even more about the future.

Comments (Archived):

  1. andyswan

    The point you’re making about the decline of endorsement/placement value seems pretty valid, but you lost me with “Kind of makes you wonder why anyone would invest in an ecommerce start-up that doesn’t have a woman at the helm.”Men are the primary buyers of autos, financial products, tech products…. should we not consider investing in a company in those sectors that doesn’t have a man at the helm?

    1. Gotham Gal

      If you look at the data it is actually women who make the majority of those decisions, not men. 85% of purchases made on line are decided by women.

      1. andyswan

        OK but are you really saying that we should exclude CEOs of a gender different from the client base?Should there not be a women CEO of a marketing software company because marketing software decisions are made by men?

        1. Gotham Gal

          I am saying that I would not invest in an ecommerce company that was all men at the C level with zero women.

          1. andyswan

            k thanks. I thought by “at the helm” you were specifically talking about the CEO position. Seemed like a pretty hard line to draw.BTW— we’ve heard so much about the “income gap”— does this mean we need legislation to help close the “ecommerce spending gap”??? Goodness men are getting crushed!!!

        2. LE

          Separate issue. The danger in having a diverse set of people is that you are sort of boxed into what one of those parties thinks framed by their own personal thoughts and experiences.Here is an example.Let’s say you start a company to sell a particular product. On your management team you have an african american, asian, and a guy from Louisville KY. (and no this isn’t a joke setup).Now you have to decide certain issues. So you ask the question of the african american about black issues. However you are then not as free to seek other opinions (is my theory) because you already have “your expert”. You could. But then it seems like you aren’t maybe trusting your own people. Otoh if you have nobody you are free to get 10 different opinions and triangulate and get to the right place.After all, even though you are a guy from Kentucky, doesn’t mean whatever you think would apply to everyone since it’s obvious you are going to be biased by your own experience. Since you are only one person.Make sense?

      2. LE

        You know I’ve long had this theory about men vs. women specifically with regard to products in the house.For example men typically, at least in the past, didn’t cook or do the wash. As a result there is very little innovation in those products (or the way they were used) or even in home building to make those jobs easier. (Now of course the kitchen has greatly improved but that was driven primarily by the high end of the market..)Here is one example. For a long time I did my own wash even when I was married (long story as to why). I also did the wash when I was down at our shore place which had a room full of washers and dryers. I quickly found that it was way more efficient to obviously have multiple washers and dryers so you could bang out the wash all at once (by hogging the washers and dryers). Back at the house of course there is no room to do that. So it’s not the cost of the equipment (it’s reasonable for what you get). So because men typically drive home building, and men typically don’t’ do the wash (like I did), and also because men don’t have empathy for the jobs that their wives do, there is no push to make many of these hold hold choirs easier. At least traditionally. And men are typically more into efficiency and building things and gadgets and machines. I told my wife “why don’t we get one of those floor cleaning robots” and she said that we didn’t need it! Hmm couldn’t understand that at all since I saw it as something that solved a particular problem (men want to solve problems is the sterotype, right?)Anyway if either women are in charge and/or men have familiarity with what a women has to do all of the sudden things could change. Or women need to be more vocal and push harder.

    2. Susan Rubinsky

      I think this is part of why so many boutique products and ecommerce entities are cropping up. I know that I go out to the store with the intent to buy something and often find NOTHING I want to buy. Then I come home and find something on Etsy or another boutique ecommerce site.I often wander around stores like Kohl’s or Macy’s and wonder, “Who the heck selected this stuff?” because I am often not at all interested.There are so many product “gaps” when it comes to women. I often go out with the intent to purchase a very specific thing but can find that thing nowhere. For example, an affordable, classy, well-made, feminine briefcase that my laptop fits in. Took me two years to find one (granted, I have a BIG 17″ widescreen laptop because I do graphic work). It should not be THAT hard to find. I have a list I keep of things I want to buy but can’t find anywhere.I think the number one reason why these products are so hard to find is because women aren’t making the decisions about what products to make or to sell.

      1. andyswan

        You might be right…. from my perspective they must all be short men!

        1. Susan Rubinsky


      2. Gotham Gal

        Interesting observation. I too go out with something in mind and have a hard time finding it.

    3. Erin

      What’s more important than gender (at least to me) is the ability to respect and collaborate with other genders, which probably means you feel comfortable with someone of the opposite sex leading alongside you.

  2. Erin

    I heard yesterday on the radio that the car that has repeatedly been voted the most unpopular, unsexy family car is experiencing a surprising upsurge among millennials, not because it’s suddenly a better quality car, but because it’s the car that Walter White from Breaking Bad drives.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      After the Rachel character on “Friends” named her baby, Emma, Emma was the #1 female baby name for two or three years.

      1. Erin

        I guess you have to be a bumbling and awkward celebrity to make an endorsement.

    2. LE

      That’s hilarious! Just looked that up. 2004 Pontiac Aztec. As ugly as a AMC Pacer.This however is obviously a fad just like there was a phase of retro cars as a fad. Example was the Chrysler PT cruiser which came and went in popularity.

      1. Erin

        I just looked it up too. Wow. So bad. That speaks volumes about the effect Breaking Bad has had on society, though, eh?

  3. Sofia Papastamelos

    I feel like it’s shifted to product placement with the Instagram bloggers. Much more powerful than a movie or online ad -millennials like to follow and interact with thought leaders.

    1. Gotham Gal

      totally agree.

  4. awaldstein

    This is why i love the wellness market. Some $2T a year in NA spending, predominantly female changing the way that all products from yoga clothes to vegetables to healthcare are bought.It’s about empowerment and taking control and had its origins with women not men and now is crossing over the other way.

    1. Gotham Gal

      never thought of it like that.

      1. awaldstein

        Older post on it:The Wellness Market http://awe.sm/fORaGReally has exploded in the last year now that I reread this.btw-The two women NY entrepreneurs who founded Well & Good (http://wellandgood.com) are doing great things in this sector.

  5. Inna Raykhman

    if you are an immigrant, the ads have a limited influence on you as well, since you are an outsider by definition.

  6. LE

    What we are learning and again not surprising is that the millennials are not swayed by advertising or celebrity endorsements.I don’t doubt the data that says this. But one of the reasons for a celebrity endorsement is that it gets people to pay attention to your message. This extends really to anyone delivering a message that you would pay attention to.As such let’s imagine for a second that you saw an advertisement which featured someone that you know of or admired juxtaposed or talking about a product. You would almost certainly stop and take notice and think about the product. And it wouldn’t even have to be an endorsement either. In a sense this is what social media does with everyday people which was what you are saying. It’s more or less breaking through the clutter. I’ve often seen advertising with celebrities where the name isn’t even mentioned, just a picture. And it does make me stop and pay attention. No words are even written or spoken.Jessica said to me “did you see all those product placements in the film? Lots of coke.” She then asked me “how much do you think they all paid for that?”. I was floored that she was so acutely aware of the products being pushed at her at that age.That’s pretty cool that she noticed that and asked that question.That placement, those fake tastemakers, start to make brands feel unauthentic.Well there is a reason for that repetition. It’s to keep the product relevant and in the forefront of your mind.I was watching some movie on Netflix the other night where they mentioned zantac with regard to a character who was drinking orange juice. Two times. I thought of this when I saw your other post and the big orange juice flask. I could never ever drink orange juice those days are long gone.