Category: Uncategorized

Strategy for the Small Business Marketing Message

You own your own small business. You need to stay competitive and keep up with the competition in order to be relevant in today’s market, but you don’t have the luxury of an in house marketing firm that larger companies do. Small to medium size businesses face the challenge of looking and being competitive using strategic, creative plans that share their message and find their audience.

What is most important for small businesses to know and to incorporate in their marketing plan to do just that? They need to think about the message and the brand they are sending and how they are sending it. Coming up with a very specific program in this era of ever-evolving marketing strategies that is cost effective and detailed is important in building a loyal consumer base.

  1. The Human Factor

    Personal relationships are by far one of the most important tools in marketing. This is nothing new, but as consumers become less and less brand loyal, the relationship you create with a new customer is extremely important in keeping them as a customer. What can you do as a business to go above and beyond your competition to create, develop and secure the relationship you have with your new consumers? Find that difference, develop it and engage your customers so you keep them coming back to you time and time again. Interact with them through social media, personal e-mails and rewards so they are constantly reminded what sets you ahead of the competition.

  2. Content Marketing

    Embrace it now if you have not already done so. While the e-mails, e-mail marketing blasts, social media are extremely important in your plan, content marketing allows you to be the leader and the expert in your field. Continually changing the content to your website with a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly blog keeps customers engaged and reassured that you know and understand the industry and are the industry leader. By providing key facts and information with out pushing sales, it keeps you top of mind and when consumers are looking to engage, purchase or retain, you will be the company they look to and respect.

  3. Rethink Mobile

    Smartphone usage has and will continue to effect relationship marketing, and small businesses must adapt to the change and the need to be mobile friendly. There are MORE searches on mobile devices for businesses then on desktops or other devices and Google has responded to the consumer demand.  Google (search engines) penalizes sites that are not optimized for mobile and gives more weight and relevance to those that are.  Along with your website being optimized, you must look at your e-mail marketing campaigns, how do they appear on a mobile device? What and how are you using social media? Facebook is the most heavily trafficked social media site and 54% of those users are strictly on mobile devices.

  4. Get Targeted on Your Market (Really Targeted!)

    Small businesses don’t need to simply throw a line and bait into a large pond and hope and wait for the perfect fish. Geo-precise marketing and re-direct targeting allows businesses to specifically go after their consumers. Tools like Google Adwords, Facebook ads and other advertising platforms offer geo-targeting services that help businesses find the perfect consumer, both locally and globally.  This is based on exactly where your buying power is coming from. By fine tuning your targeting, you can increase your conversions and focus on your landing pages or content marketing campaigns to the geographic norms and preferences in the areas where their consumers are coming from. These campaigns will allow you to spend a specific budget on your exact needs.

  5. Try, Test, Analyze

    Small or large, all businesses must continuously attempt new programs in order to keep up with the constant evolvement and changing environment that today’s savvy consumer’s demand. Staying current with the ever changing opportunity’s is a must. Study your results and watch carefully over your analytics to understand what is working and what your customers and potential customers respond too. Tweaking your campaign and testing the results needs to be part of the plan in order to stay competitive and must be part of your overall marketing program. Failing to adjust in order to stay competitive will leave you behind your competition. Flexibility, quick reaction and ability to change will keep you competitive now and in the future.

What Breeds Loyalty?

Loyalty, as defined by marketers, consists of a customer’s tendency to favor one particular brand or product over all others. Loyalty to a company would include the tendency to try a new product type from that company first, based on previously experienced satisfaction from other product(s) of the company. A customer’s loyalty is typically derived from a combination of consistency, performance, convenience, familiarity and satisfaction. Ideally brand loyalty also consists of a feeling, one that can be evoked and reinforced with brand images, logos and associations. Trust and loyalty go hand in hand, and it takes a strong bond and history with a customer to maintain loyalty through breeches in trust.

Customer loyalty must be continually fed for it to be maintained, yet first has to be established through a multi-tiered process. The process begins by identifying the specific target customer and what exactly the company is promising to deliver by purchasing its product or walking through the door. Whether it be taste, quality or performance, the company must also attach an emotion to the purchase which translates to fulfillment and satisfaction. While a product may ultimately mean different things to different people, the experience should be consistent in subsequent purchases to establish loyalty.

Customer loyalty to a store or service provider, as opposed to a consumer goods company or product are different animals, yet necessitate several of the same promises between company and customer to be established and delivered. This all begins with the self-ascribed brand identity and market differentiation. Marketplace clutter and globalization make it increasingly important for any brand, vendor, store or product, to clearly define and constantly reinforce what they are, what they provide, what makes them unique and who their target customer is. The ensuing shopping experience promised needs to be consistently provided to cultivate loyalty. Whatever that promise is, whether it be the lowest price, the crispest crust, the fastest service or the biggest selection of organic food, it needs to be clearly communicated and consistently delivered.

It is unusual for any customer to be exclusively loyal to one brand, due to practical considerations such as lifestyle and convenience. Consumers tend to spread their loyalty, with ease and accessibility influencing preference, generally among stores or brands that are similar in quality and concept. Discount retailers are a good example, with the options such as Target, Walmart and K-Mart as some of the big names competing for the same customers, offering similar goods and services. Assuming a customer prefers Target but only shops there 70% of the time due to convenience, the goal of the preferred retailer is to continually reinforce the positive shopping experience that breeds the loyalty in order to maintain and steadily increase its share. Quite simply, consistently delivering on its promise will justify an additional 10 minutes of driving.

In the increasingly competitive world of retail and consumer goods, it is not enough to have an established brand name when newer names promising the same or better keep arriving. It is critical for the preferred brand to regularly remind their customers of the reasons they have remained loyal. Brands need to be fresh and current, yet comfortably familiar. Names like Johnson & Johnson and Coca Cola have effectively drawn on nostalgia and tradition while successfully keeping up with newer trends in packaging, product offerings and lifestyle preferences.

A rapidly changing marketplace necessitates branding refreshes to grow the consumer base and maintain a competitive edge by keeping up with these changes. Such transitions are more seamless with a strong base of loyal customers; their buying tendency will not change as long as the goods are still delivered. That trust can also carry companies through temporary breeches, as in the case with the tainted Tylenol in 1982. Johnson & Johnson had enjoyed a 35% market share of pain relievers, which plummeted to 8% within weeks of the tragic case. Swift action by the executives in the forms of recalls and improved safety measures restored Johnson & Johnson dominant market position within a year, drawing upon that pre-established trust with its consumer base.

The case with Johnson & Johnson is a model in how to be accountable and take the appropriate measures to follow through in a crisis, delivering on their promise to consumers. However, follow through and engagement with the customer is equally important in good times as bad; consumers need to be reminded of their brand preference and loyalty. More voices in the market clamoring for attention can easily drown out loyalty without those reminders. Nearly all retailers today, large or small, offer customer loyalty incentives and programs to encourage repeated patronage. It is important to stay ahead of the trend, reinventing ways to connect with the buyer, offering newer and more unique rewards for their loyalty.

The big get bigger in today’s marketplace; traditional discount retailers are offering more and more services and products to choke out the smaller specialized businesses, while traditional food processing companies also compete in the beverage market. There is always a place and need for specialized and unique services and businesses, but in order to succeed, there needs to be a clear established product or service and target customer, effectively communicated by the branding. Brand loyalty is a challenge to maintain and even more difficult to establish anew, yet it is the currency that will determine the success of the business.

First Impressions

Why does a first impression matter? Quite simply, it matters because it may be the last chance you get. As a writer it may be the first paragraph of your book. For a musician, perhaps, it could be the opening chords of your song. As a rookie, it would be the first play made in the big game. For a job interview, it may be as simple as the outfit chosen. And for a business owner, it could be the storefront, the first ad placed, or the logo. That’s the first impression, the first mental image formed which is the most powerful in terms of immediate perception, and perhaps the last impression allowed.

According to a 2006 Psychology study, it takes people just 1/10th of a second to judge someone from a first impression, with trustworthiness and attractiveness the two traits most quickly evaluated in the study of a human face. In fact a more recent study conducted reveals that first impressions are so powerful, they may override fact, and appearance alone can trump knowledge. We can’t help but judge a book by its cover, and with today’s technology and consumption of social media, providing instant access and an endless stream of information, messages and images, less time is provided to process, and snap judgements are made.

In the course of daily life, and business, many mistakes are often made on the path to success. That is why awareness for the need of conscious branding, and re-branding when necessary are critical tools for the desired path ahead, be it personally or professionally. The age old adage “you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression” is more than a cliché, it should be a daily mantra in the quest for success. Several studies have examined the affect of the first impression given, and subsequent judgments formed, examining a variety of factors that contribute to the formation.

Know your audience:
Appearance and conduct on a first meeting, whether social or business in origin, is the very first mark on an otherwise blank slate. It cannot be undone as there is no previous context to draw upon, to dilute the experience. A positive impression is derived from attractive qualities that draw the audience in; likeability and relatability are important, but not as important as knowing your audience. In knowing your audience, you will also know the right impression you are trying to make as well as the message they want to hear.

A successful business leader adjusts the tone, content and delivery of a message based on the audience; his team and the client are completely different audiences. The first meeting with a new team is an important first impression, and the message should inspire them to produce their finest work, assuring each individual of their value to the team; the first client pitch meeting should leave an impression of confidence, building trust in his commitment to make them satisfied and successful. When branding a product or a service, knowing the audience is critical to the success of a campaign, sending the message to the right person to create interest, desire and trust first in order to warrant a further relationship.

Body language:
The art of communicating without words is a subtle and effective skill. It stems from confidence and awareness of both the aura and image being projected and is often more powerful than any words that are spoken. Some important components of body language include of:

  • personal appearance
  • good posture
  • appealing facial expressions
  • steady eye contact
  • firm handshake.

Those most skilled at first impressions conduct themselves as if they are being observed at all times by the one they want to impress most. The neatness of their appearance, how they hold their shoulders, the position of their hands and maintaining eye contact are all powerful messages of self-assuredness and confidence as well as interest and connection with their audience. There is a difference between arrogance and confidence, as one is blatantly bold while the other is quietly attractive. It is important to never confuse the two.

While the first impression an individual makes often determines the way they are treated or viewed in a variety of contexts in everyday life, businesses can live or die based on their first impression. In “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”, Malcolm Gladwell states “Buyers make most decisions by relying on their two-second first impressions based on stored memories, images and feelings.” A potential buyer, client or consumer must first have a positive impression from the business’ outward appearance in order to warrant a sale and establish a relationship. Critical components of creating this positive association include the business reflecting exactly who they are, in the best possible light, with the image and brand resonating with the desired target audience. The desired end result: a positive impression that draws the viewer back, seeks you out when your product or service is needed, and keeps them coming back.

New Year’s Resolutions

December once again comes to a close and the average person begins contemplating how to make the New Year a better one, seeing the opportunity to start a new and better life. December starts to feel like a month long hangover of excess; too much food, drink, spending and socializing. Usually at the top of the list for New Year resolutions is the intent to not eat, drink and spend so much next December, to try not to do as much running around and somehow savor what is supposed to be the most magical holiday season rather than a self-imposed anxiety fest.

Break Tradition

Why not break from the tradition of self-loathing and criticism, looking in the mirror and only seeing the areas that need to be improved? Don’t be tempted by the standard list of the masses, predictably including: reduce alcohol intake, quit smoking, lose weight, stop swearing, write thank yous, finish the novel, get 8 hours of sleep, start yoga classes, clean out closet, run a marathon, save more money, and on and on. These are all admirable aspirations towards a healthier life and having goals is certainly an important component of a productive life. But the point of making a resolution for the New Year is as senseless as dieting in order gorge on a holiday feast. Why wait to January 1st?

Why Wait Until January 1st?

Given the chaos created and generally accepted to be December, perhaps resolutions should be made in November. Or better yet, how about a different type of resolution list that is entirely positive, starting with “own it”. Make a list that celebrates everything you accomplished this past year, all of the good deeds that were done, the great people you met and all the things you love about your appearance. Celebrate the closet you did clean, the cookies you made for teachers, the account you landed and the five times you made it to the gym. Savor each and every accomplishment and task completed, how it made you feel and ride that mojo to keep going in the right direction. Self-reflection is a powerful tool for personal growth, particularly when focusing on positive thoughts and energy, and it should occur on a regular basis.

On another note, perhaps even more productive than listing tasks to accomplish or habits to change would be to list all the positive characteristics we could use more of, recognizing this of course after self reflection. Strengthening or cultivating traits such as being honest, patient, communicative, industrious, principled, prepared, engaged, charitable, productive, determined and even light-hearted; being aware of and having a desire to improve in such areas, some more than others will generally result in accomplishing many tasks as the byproduct of taking on much more meaningful life changing goals.

History of Resolutions

When and where did the tradition of making New Year’s lists begin? First it is important to look back at earlier celebrations as to how they decided when the New Year would begin. For the ancient Babylonians, some 4,000 years ago, they heralded the day the first new moon following the vernal equinox, the day in late March with an equal amount of sunlight and darkness. Around the world civilizations began pinning the first day of the new year to coincide with a major astrological or agricultural event, such as in Egypt with the annual flooding of the Nile coincided with the rising of the star Sirius. January 1st became the New Year under Roman times, when a Roman king added January and February to the previous 10 month calendar, but over time the calendar fell out of sync with the sun. Julius Caesar consulted with prominent mathematicians and astronomers and introduced the Julian Calendar, closely resembling the Gregorian Calendar, making New Year’s day January 1st. In Medieval Europe, Christian leaders temporarily placed the day to on other more religiously significant days such as December 25th and March 25th (the Feast of Annunciation), but Pope Gregory XIII reinstated January 1st as New Year’s Day in 1582.

Many customs of celebrating the welcoming of the new year have been handed down from various civilizations, adopted by more modern cultures, especially in the form of food; the type of food made, whether shape or ingredients may symbolize prosperity and good luck or the year coming full circle. Other cultures adopted fireworks that are prevalent today. But the practice of making resolutions for the New Year was thought to originate from the Babylonians, as they made promises in order to earn favors with the gods, such as paying off debts. The Romans similarly took vows at the end of the year to the god Janus, for whom January is named. And the knights in the Medieval era took the “peacock vow” to continue to be more chivalrous.

Throughout the history of civilization, the changes of the calendar and when the new year would be celebrated, the tradition was also born of making promises, often to a higher power. I doubt losing weight or running a marathon was among these lists, but in today’s world those acts fall under a broader meaning of self-improvement and sacrifice that somehow does resonate throughout the ages. But for the sake of what modern times and the complexities brought on by globalization, I am left to ponder certain traits that could transform not only the promiser, but the community around them: tolerance, humor and joy. Pledging those three things for yourself and throwing them out to the universe: tolerant of my neighbor and his beliefs; finding humor in the everyday frustrations; seeing joy everywhere I look. These I have adopted for my New Year’s resolutions.

Why You Need to Unplug:

Leaders take the lead and set the example

In the recent Republican presidential nominee debates, Governor Jeb Bush proudly proclaimed he has not taken more than a week off from work in over thirty years. He extolled the virtues of a strong work ethic as one of the characteristics that would make him best suited to the job as President. To be fair, Bush was also supporting one of his main campaign themes that Americans need to increase productivity, starting with a stronger work ethic; meaning longer work hours and less vacation time. This, he argues, could be one of the key driving forces behind The United States’ return to being a leader among industrialized nations and improving our economy.

However, many experts would disagree on principle that a week of vacation per year is sufficient to recharge emotionally and physically. This is particularly the case for individuals in high stress professions. In fact, productivity, creativity and overall health significantly improve with regular opportunities to completely unplug. But that is the key: completely unplug to recharge. The average American can relate to the phrase “unplug”, as technology and the immediacy brought on by its prominence in our home, social and work environment has taken a whole new level to the inability to check out and recharge. We as a society are “on demand”.

The argument being made by health and psychology professionals for regularly “checking out” does not necessarily entail longer vacations than the average American is already afforded. It refers more specifically to the quality of time being spent away from the work place and the other daily stresses of life. The reality of the economic ladder is that professionals in higher paying jobs often bear much greater responsibilities, many of which “they can’t leave at the office”. The reality of the workforce today, is climbing up the ladder generally entails wearing more hats as the person you replaced on the way up. Automation, technology, downsizing and a tough economy have contributed to that. Leaving your apron at the diner after a long day sounds appealing by comparison.

Certainly a higher paycheck may enable fancier vacations, but do these more extravagant getaways truly achieve the gold standard of relaxation if the smartphone is a constant companion out of “necessity”; as the only way the executive in question can justify being out of the office? By definition, leaders of industry, particularly in these times of global interconnectedness and economic challenges, are tasked with regularly discovering innovative solutions to grow or salvage their own industries, while strategizing on synergies to cross barriers with other industries to continue growth, expansion and maintain relevance in a constantly evolving global marketplace. The stakes continue to rise.

While individuals with elevated responsibilities may experience different daily stressors as a result of their position, the concept of unplugging and checking out at regular intervals is important for all individuals. Everyone faces unique challenges and responsibilities leading to stress and anxiety relative to their own situation, related to everything from home life, work, finances and health. Often times the very act of planning and saving for a special vacation creates its own set of stressors that end up eliminating the benefits of taking it. While it is important to “get away”, regular opportunities to relax and refresh, by definition, need to be incorporated in a way that truly achieves the goal. The benefits and rewards are better health, physically and mentally, and improved productivity in work and daily life routines.

The initial focus on leaders of industry, whether large or small, is the sense of responsibility that accompanies their role and diminishes their perceived ability to spend time away. Oftentimes, this perception becomes reality, and leaders have cultivated an environment and culture that demands accessibility and immediacy in communication at all times, which not only elevates the stress level of the workplace but diminishes the value of life away from work. This thinking is nearly abusing and misusing technology; rather than a beneficial tool it becomes a co-conspirator in attacking the mental and physical health of each employee, starting from the top. Any productive and successful manager or team has the same need to regroup and regenerate as their company’s leader, if they are to effectively continue on a positive career path trajectory. The owner of a small business is coping with many of the same challenges as the titans of industry, operating on a different scale, held to different measures and unique to their marketplace, yet the stress and challenges translate equally.

From a purely scientifically level, recharging in order to maintain proper stress levels is critical to the mind body connection. Chronic elevated stress levels result in a range of deleterious physical consequences; from a compromised immune system, to weight gain, to depression and developmental impairment. Elevated stress levels have a direct correlation to chronic skin conditions, hair loss and a wide range of life threatening diseases. The body’s production of cortisol in reaction to an environmental stressor does have benefits in short spurts, as its primary target is metabolic and activates the body to protect itself in life threatening situations. Anxiety is in the eye of the beholder. Stress becomes particularly harmful when it is long lasting, and a “benign” or non- life threatening stress is equally taxing on the body; how an individual perceives an environment or situation is absolutely unique.

Escaping for a week or more a few times each a year, without technology distractions to make one reachable by the outside world, may be impractical and actually impossible for many given their real life work situations. Harvard Business School Leslie Perlow authored the book “Sleeping with your Smarphone” which reinforces the argument that time away from technology makes people more creative, innovative and productive. In a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, Perlow states “Everybody is bombarded all the time these days. The more senior you are, the more you perceive “there’s nobody but me”.” In this same article, some top Executives shared their own simple strategies, seemingly small acts, that have enabled them to regularly “unplug” with minor interruption to a typical work day. Why? Because they have experienced an immediate reward, in the form of inspired thinking and spike in productivity.

Much of their advice is easily translated and applicable to any working professional.

The CEO of Zillow turns off his company email for a 24 hour stretch each week. Jim Moffatt, the CEO of Deloitte Consulting, is very public about his conscious effort to periodically step away from smartphones, technology and being accessible, as a way to impart on employees that it is important to have a life outside of work. Regularly taking 10 days off with his family in the summer, Moffatt credits this time to tune out recharge with enabling him to cut through “fog and clutter”, resulting in the tendency to “think bigger” and “think broader”. While the disconnect allows for executives to recharge, perhaps allowing for even more inspired leadership, one of the side benefits is the growth opportunity for colleagues and team members as they exercise more power and initiative in taking on additional responsibilities. One internet executive summed up his December unplugging experience as “humbling”, as after a month free of all social media and email, he plugged back in to find out that yes, the world was working quite well without him.

Sedona and the Vortex

Sedona is the storied city of vortex energy and healing, where many a traveller comes to seek the spiritual enlightenment associated with the magical environment the topography provides. As the helicopter pilot so aptly responds to how trees can grow out of the magnificent red clay cliffs in the midst of the desert, “ask God”, and thus the juxtaposition of heaven and earth is found in Sedona. Seekers of spirituality and regular nature lovers have an equal appreciation for the allure of its majesty, as more than 4 million visitors arrive yearly to this small town of just over 10,000 residents.

IMG_0959Shopping malls and pink jeep tours have overrun the downtown over the past two decades, with vendors capitalizing on the burgeoning tourism trade, replete with a myriad of t-shirt and crystal shops. One could throw a crystal in any direction and hit a shop whose theme was spiritual enlightenment, purchased via services or materials. But even the throng of visitors from all over the world cannot detract from one of the most awe-inspiring vistas the Southwest has to offer. It is no wonder it is a favorite destination for weddings, which happened to be the reason for our recent visit. A sudden downpour in the midst of the mountain top ceremony, with the setting sun sending brilliant bursts between the clouds off the surrounding multi-hued cliffs, did nothing but magnify the beauty and magic held within the canyon walls.

While many parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah offer breathtaking canyons, vistas and clay formations, Sedona’s environs seem exponential in the plentitude of remarkable cliffs, canyons and rock formations that completely envelop the town, punctuated by bursts of colors. In present day, both the curious and the seekers of energy and enlightenment are intrigued by the designated energy sources, or vortexes that are located within the Sedona area; 4 of the most powerful vortex in the United States are located within the city, and 14 vortexes have been identified within a 10-mile radius of the city limits. Other noteworthy centers of vortex activity across the globe include the Great Pyramid in Egypt and Stonehenge in England, while the most powerful sites in the United States include the four in Sedona as well as the Oregon Vortex and Mt. Shasta Vortex; other vortex hotspots, all in Arizona, include some areas of the Grand Canyon and Meteor Crater.

The concept of a vortex is elusive to many. In trying to simplify the concept for my children, I found the following concise description summed it up best: “a vortex is a place in nature where the earth is exceptionally alive with energy…a place where the earth energy swirls and draws to its center everything that surrounds it, like a tornado. At these sites trees often exhibit this swirling or twisting in their trunks due to the powerful energy.” Vortexes typically exist where there are strong concentrations of gravitational anomalies, in turn creating an environment that can defy gravity, bend light, twist plants and trees into unusual shapes and cause humans to feel strange. These areas of high-energy concentration originate from magnetic, spiritual and sometimes unknown life forces; the vortex energy flow is believed to interact with a person’s inner energy, inviting prayer, meditation and healing at these locations.

Further study of the purported energy exhibited at vortex sites are identified as electric, magnetic or electromagnetic, further ascribing the particular vortex with either positive or negative energy, reflecting masculine/ feminine (or yin yang), not good vs. evil. An “up-flow” vortex is electric, a positive vortex, said to boost spiritual skills and expand consciousness, and feels exhilarating. A “down-flow” vortex is magnetic, and the energy flowing is said to create a more pensive, soul-searching experience, ascribed negative in its feminine spiritual quality but not bad, although fear may be the first sensation given the heady introspection. The significance of how many spiritual seekers have been affected by vortex energy was brought to me through a random encounter with an older gentleman, on the eve of his imminent retirement as a chief pilot for the U.S. Marshalls.

Upon our meeting one evening as we sought shelter from a rain shower, Kyle seemed like the last person that would be drawn in by a seemingly new-age phenomenon associated with vortexes, energy and crystal healing. After being invited to join he and his wife and another couple at a communal table under the canopy of a lovely creek-side wine bar, we ended up spending the better part of the evening getting to know these two generous and gregarious couples from Oklahoma. Kyle eventually shared with us that he had lost his wife in the Oklahoma City bombing, and 19 years earlier received a diagnosis of having 6-12 months live following surgery for tonsil cancer. After a third of his neck was basically carved out during this surgery, he visited friends in Sedona who loaded him up with crystals and had him sit with his feet in the Verde River. He stayed for 2 weeks and returned 10 years later to wed his beautiful wife Kaye. He is also a counselor for Mayo clinic inspiring terminally ill patients with how to fight their illness with their heart and mind, emphasizing that positive energy towards healing comes from faith within.

IMG_0949The question is, with so many incredible and interesting rock formations around Sedona and in the Southwest, how were the particular vortex sites originally identified? In doing research on this subject, the answer inevitably comes back to personal experiences that have been shared, and yes, marketed over time. The advent of tourism in Sedona does not have its foundation in new age beliefs, in fact that is a more recent development. Improvements in roadways and water irrigation during the 1940s and 50s opened up the area to more settlers, visitors and even Hollywood, attracted by the same grandeur that brought an international gathering of mystic believers to the area in 1987, as part of the Harmonic Convergence (of the planets). By many accounts, the current New Age Brigade moved in following this event, integrating seamlessly and peacefully into the community. However, the movement had been slowly building for decades.

Taking a look at Sedona’s history, arguably it started roughly 350 million years ago, the time geological experts estimate it took the earth to be carved into the brilliant landscape you see today. Over the period of the 300 million years, the land was alternately ocean bottom and coastal plain, and sedimentary layers were created by sandstone. Volcanic activity and tectonic shifts helped shape the plateaus, valleys and basins, and 3 million years of wind and water erosion have carved out the formations seen today. Human history began in this area nearly 6000 years ago, but it was not until 900 AD that a more advanced civilization began building pueblos and cliff houses. The Sinagua settled in this area for a period of 500 years and had established trade routes with the West Coast and Mexico, eventually disappearing as the Apache and the Yavapai people moved in.

Sedona’s modern history, beginning with its name, is traced back to the turn of the century as one of the first prominent homesteaders from Missouri named the new establishment after his wife, Sedona, who was neither Spanish nor American Indian by descent. Fruit growing was the most significant part of the early Sedona economy, as settlers and American Indians both learned to channel water from nearby Oak Creek for irrigation. Larger orchards were eventually planted which allowed for grapes and vineyards to become part of the commerce for the nearby communities of cowboys, loggers and miners. Fruits and wine became a successful commercial operation for the area, driven to markets in Prescott, Flagstaff and Phoenix. However, commercial orcharding declined in the 1970s and all but disappeared by the 1980s. Many former orchards have been converted to either subdivisions or state

The Sedona area experienced the most dramatic changes post WWII, as more leisure time and pleasure seekers were able to explore the West. A groundwater aquifer discovered in West Sedona allowed for new residential developments, and new residents in the form of both retirees and spiritual lifestyle seekers joined the original homesteaders. Movie making, particularly in the heyday of westerns during the 1940s and 1950s brought the beauty of Sedona to the big screen, with nearly every major studio and star of this era working on a film in this town. They built sets and shot films in the backyard of a multitude of real-life ranchers and cowboys that were hard at work riding, roping and branding the livestock that roamed far and wide among the canyons. Residents recognized opportunity with the growing number of visitors during the mid to late 1940s; some built additional cabins on their creek-side properties, while a new market, cafes, taverns and motels were built to accommodate residential and visitor needs. And while the Sedona airport opened in 1957, Sedona remained relatively quiet and secluded until the late 60s and early 1970s, when local ranchers and homesteaders sold property to developers.

The theme of art and religion in the Sedona community had been prominent since WWII, attracting many artists and religious or spiritual seekers inspired by the red rocks. The spirituality of the area also encouraged less traditional forms of religion, and by the latter half of the century Sedona was considered one of the preeminent centers of New Age consciousness. In the 1950s, a new age adherent named Page Bryant employed methods of “ley lines”, developed in the 1920s to draw lines between sacred religious sites, to identify the four main vortex sites in Sedona at the site of ley line intersections (node points), which also happened to boast magnificent rock formations. With a firm complementary identity already established as an artist and writer colony and great place to retire, Sedona transitioned into a new age designation, with the arrival of “Ruby Focus” and their quest for energy in 1963, providing one of the earliest historical references to vortex energy. The Ruby Focus group changed their name to Rainbow Ray Focus and established their center near the Airport Mesa Vortex, considered one of the most powerful positive energy vortex sites in Sedona. This group and others that followed were assisted by a resident Hatha Yoga instructor named Mary LouKeller who was interested in new age practices, metaphysics and alternative healing.

While Sedona was steadily establishing itself as one of the premiere centers for new age practices and healing before 1987, it seems the harmonic convergence of that year propelled it forward. The harmonic convergence was the first globally synchronized meditation events, which coincided with an unusual planetary alignment consisting of the sun and moon and 6 planets, in August of 1987. Many new age adherents believed this alignment to create a shift in the earth’s energy from a warlike state to a peaceful state on the planet, which could be reinforced by their convergence upon several identified power centers throughout the world. Their presence and meditation at one of the 12 global power centers, such as Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, Mt. Fuji, Mt. Shasta and Sedona, the most powerful spiritual energy sites, would facilitate the shift towards a new era in global peace. Bell Rock, the strongest up-flow vortex, was the focus for the Sedona contingent, with visitors anticipating either a UFO landing or the rock to break open. While neither occurred, following this festival, in a time of global unrest, political shifts and spiritual awakenings, Sedona moved into a more prominent spot as a destination for enlightenment.

The question remains whether vortex energy is real or imagined and the answer is found within the individual. From a purely scientific standpoint, geological characteristics of this area with transitions from mountains to flatland, with faults abundant with deposits of magnetized basalt, have relations to the variations in the earth’s gravitational field. In essence, as with most matters of faith or even supernatural experiences, an “enlightened” individual, open to receiving spiritual energy and messages, will be able to experience the energy transmitted. Many residents that embrace the new age culture and consciousness refer to a common theme of a “calling” or quest that led either them or someone they know to Sedona. The doubter or skeptic will most likely experience nothing beyond fatigue from the hike to some of these elevated points. But even the most hardened skeptic will find it difficult to not be inspired by the breathtaking natural monuments carved over time, inviting pause, reflection and a moment of peace.

CREATIVITY: What CEOs Value Most

“Thinking outside the box” is a well-worn term used over the years by business leaders in marketing memos and individuals trying to encourage differentiation from mainstream thoughts and practices, a desired descriptor that implies innovation and creativity. But when a recent poll of 1,500 leading CEOs in the United States, across a variety of industries ranked “creativity” as the #1 most desired trait among their management team and recruits, this characteristic has taken on new meaning and examination.

Creativity and innovation are often associated with industries that are defined and driven by trendsetting, that require constant reinvention for their existence and relevance, such as fashion and advertising. What is surprising is the emphasis placed on this most desired leadership trait, among all industry leaders, as a response to the most difficult economic downturns theirs and other industries are facing. LVHM Fashion Group Chairman Pierre-Yves Roussel, since taking on his role of chairman/ CEO, captures the essence of the power of creative thinking: “what struck me is how central creativity and innovation are to everything we do…if we stop being creative and innovative, its all over…it starts with having a real culture of creativity…some people are not creative themselves but they are fundamentally people who are very curious and open-minded, and like to discover new things.”

This leads to inspiration, in a management team; being inspired by the innovators and developers of new products, as it applies to any business or industry, is central to success in an industry. Quite simply, positive results are the outcome when the managing team is supporting innovation and creative thinking, from top to bottom, instilling it in the corporate culture. Looking to a leading figure of the world of fashion, an industry whose existence is defined by creative expression, reinvention and invoking a desire-based customer response versus capturing a segment of need-driven purchasing decisions, provides incredible insight into brand development and loyalty that can be applicable across industry platforms.

Roussel expounds on the concept of a brand, stating that “we frame each brand by what we call its “dna”…it’s more about capturing the essence, and personality of the brand, the emotion, the aspects that are not necessarily rational, the intangible things that need to be understood about a brand.” What Roussel is capturing in his description of a creative-driven, fickle customer-based industry, is the necessity of fostering innovation and creativity and appreciation for it at all levels within the corporate structure. The message needs to be reinforced within for it to be projected in the marketplace.

Thinking differently. Creativity. Innovation. These characteristics were previously valued mostly as engines for research and development, not an essential leadership quality that should permeate the organization. No longer does operational effectiveness, management discipline, existing best practices or dedication top the list as desired leadership traits, which is somewhat surprising during some of the worst economic conditions. As recently noted in a Bloomberg article, this shift in thinking from CEOs over what they value in their leadership team is a direct response to Global complexity as the foremost issue confronting them and their enterprises. “The chief executives see a large gap between the level of complexity coming at them and their confidence that their enterprises are equipped to deal with it.”

Creativity is not measured in a mechanical sense by artistic talent or ability. This characteristic speaks directly to vision, the ability to transcend traditional linear thinking boundaries by making giant leaps in thought, connecting dots that may have never been put on the same page before. The reality of global complexities is that the world is interconnected and integrated on political, social and economic levels. However, in this environment, business leaders have realized customer relationships are weakened as their customers are more connected than ever, but just not to them. A recent Forbes article on this topic identified creative leaders as more prepared to break with the status quo of industry, enterprise and revenue models, also stating “they are 81% more likely to rate innovation as a crucial capability”. Additionally noted is that 88% of all CEOs polled, and 95% of standout leaders, consider “getting closer to the customer” the leading business focus over the next 5 years.

Experts have identified key measures that creative leaders are able to activate to achieve future success amongst the ever growing global complexities. Disrupting the status quo and existing business models means willing to break with existing assumptions and make continual adjustments to business models. Success in the future will require at least 20% of revenues to come from new sources, which starts with reinventing customer relationships. The creative leaders’ response to the increasing global complexities is recognizing the opportunities.

What Color Means to You

The bull is angered by a red flag being waved before him. Does red make you feel angry or aggressive? Many restaurants choose red for their walls under the guise that the color red stimulates the appetite. How much does color affect you in your daily life? What does it mean to have a favorite color and how does that differ from the preferred color you wear, the color you paint your bedroom and the color you choose for your car?

Color adds, well color, to our daily life. And how it is applied and what we choose to surround ourselves with in different circumstances may mean many different things to many different people. It may be a reflection of our gender, our heritage, our personality and even our astrological sign.

In fashion, some choose to have their “colors done” by a specialist, dictating which colors would best complement the specific skin tone and hair color for both the wardrobe and make-up. These palates were dubbed “seasons”; mediterranean olive and darker complexions warranted the autumn palate of rust, brown, orange and red; pale skin with blue eyes and flaxen lox were complimented by the icy palate of winter white, blue and silver; dark hair and fair skin warranted a spring time pastel palate; and light brown hair and sun kissed skin were complimented by bright summer colors of kelly-green, cobalt and yellow.

Colors have also been assigned to moods, represented by a simple dime store mood ring. According to the mood ring “experts”, when wearing one of these rings, the stone color changes depending on the particular mood of the wearer, using the following guidelines: black= fear, depressed; yellow= cool, mellow; orange= nervous, unsettled; green-light green= sensitive, alert, active; blue-green= up-beat, pleased; blue: normal, optimistic; indigo-darker blue: happy, deeply relaxed; violet-burgundy: amorous, sensual; pink: affectionate, curious.

Given these definitions, blue seems like the “it” color, providing normal, happy and optimistic as the descriptions, despite the musical implications and mood associated with “feeling blue”. Yet a blue sky seems to provide everyone with pleasure.

So what do the experts say about the color choice of the walls in your house. Should your dining room, living room and bedroom have certain colors to impose a mood that you wish to reflect? The psychology of color has been widely documented and can provide guidance as to the mood and emotion desired in each living space in your home.

Red raises the room’s energy and has been show to increase heart rates and blood pressure, a great choice for entertainment areas. Yellow captures joy and communicates happiness in small spaces but can incite nervousness in larger room concepts such as bedrooms. Blue is considered to be calm and relaxing and noted for bringing down blood pressure and temperaments and therefor highly recommended for bedrooms and bathrooms. Green is considered the most restful color, calming things down but also providing warmth, making it an ideal color for any room in your house. Purple in its darker values insinuates creativity and sophistication and can bring a restful quality to bedrooms. Orange is a very energetic color that can stimulate excitement and activity, great for rooms such as an exercise room. Neutral colors such as gray, white, brown and black are basic to any decorating palate (preferred by men) without any mood associated, and easily accented with colors to activate desired mood and design.

Taking another approach to color as it relates to an individual’s personality, one astrology site has assigned colors to each of the astrological signs, based on the interpretation of the overriding characteristics of each particular sign. It takes into account the energy and properties of the color.


  • ARIES: a sign of passion, high energy, enthusiasm, and red is an energizing color. Red for this sign is all about action, pleasure and even love, and corresponds with that essence of initiation. It is aligned with the root chakra, showing remarkable ability to light a fire under even depressing conditions.
  • SCORPIO: this sign is one of deep passion, much like a volcano. This passion may burn deep below or sometimes bubble up with startling energy. Scorpio reflects red’s sensuality, love, magic and manifestation; their fire is always burning, but have the wits to know when to be calm or explode forth.


  • TAURUS: this sign is grounded in earth energy. It reflects youth, growth, natural splendor and renewal. Green is symbolic of family and unity with its heart chakra association; home and close relationships are important to this sign. As a grounding color, it implies a sensitive soul with evergreen capacity for growth.
  • LIBRA: this sign inherently knows how to balance and come together to bring harmony to its environment. Nature is an important component to this sign and green reflects the innate sense of what is needed to grow, thrive and be healthy. The instinct for survival for this sign is very keen.


  • GEMINI: like this sign, orange is the color of diversity, sociability and inspiration. This color implies desire to be highly engaged with others while striving to keep things balanced. This color is aligned with the sacral chakra, which, meaning Geminis are likely designed for discovery and exploration.


  • CANCER: this color match reflects the idealism of this sign. Cancers have the ability to go very deep within themselves among dreams and emotions, and the color violet pulls back to reality and reenergized when overwhelmed. It engages intuition and turns visions into reality.
  • SAGGITARIUS: this sign has an electric quality due to energy and enthusiasm. The color’s reflection of higher understanding and intuitive evolution implies this sign is always reaching higher in the realm of knowledge and understanding and sharing it with the world.
  • AQUARIUS: the creative sensitivity of this sign embraces the color’s internal and expressive properties. This sign also tends to go inward to great depths, is ethereal by nature, understands broad worldly concepts and finds joy in artistic expressions. The expressive, sensitive color reflects drawing the creative, dreamy soul out of seclusion.


  • LEO: this sign and its color are both extremely radiant, like the light of the sun. Leos enjoy being the center of attention, much like the sun is the center of the universe. Yellow is symbolic of courage, strength, humor and intelligence, as well as being a very positive color.


  • VIRGO: the color associated with this sign has a very tranquil and calming energy. This sign can easily tap into peace and balance and is attracted to other easy-going people. This color is nurturing and helpful and those in this sign tend to instinctively know how to attend to others’ needs.


  • CAPRICORN: This color associated with this sign deals with depth of perception and indicates tremendous instinct. Capricorns have the ability to see clearly through confusion and are depended on by others to display cool action. Indigo is aligned with the third eye-chakra, where powerful perception comes into play.
  • PISCES: While the waters of this sign run very deep, the indigo also indicates powerful perception. The emotional connection of this sign makes Pisces very sensitive to external influences. As indigo is aligned with the third-eye chakra, this sign also possesses keen psychic abilities. Indigo also acts as a barrier to escape the psychic clatter, soothing the need for deep isolation.

The colors and sign associations above are based on perception of colors’ meaning, and then tie them in with personality traits. Yet traditional astrological signs in the zodiac have specific colors and hues assigned to them, much like a color wheel; the colors are related to the body parts that are influenced by the specific sign, and the planet that rules the sign. The range of colors represented below in the traditional zodiac meaning show much variance from the color assigned to each astrological sign above that used defining personality traits as the guide.

  • Aries: fiery hues like red and bright orange. It stimulates and motivates, linked with the muscular system, blood, head and brain.
  • Taurus: ruled by the feminine Venus, linked with feminine colors such as pink. It is known to beautify, stabilize and conserve and is linked to the throat, neck and metabolism.
  • Gemini: cheerful shades of yellow, it is positive and uplifting but also changing. It is linked physically to arms, shoulders, respiratory and nervous system.
  • Cancer: ruled by the moon, it is linked with the soft, receptive colors of white, silver, gray and cream. This color and sign combination reflects an influence on the feminine body parts such as reproductive system and breasts.
  • Leo: this zodiac is ruled and influenced by the sun, with the regal colors of purple, gold and burnt orange. Leo influences the cardiac system and upper back and its meanings include heart, warmth and creativity.
  • Virgo: ruled by mercury and associated with the earth element, color associations are the earthy hues of olive green, tans and ochre. This sign is linked physically with the lower digestive system.
  • Libra: the colors of this sign are all about balance and harmony, which includes the softer pastel shades baby blue, pink, lavender, peach and aqua. Physically Libra is linked to the endocrine system.
  • Scorpio: ruled by Pluto, this sign’s color meanings include transformation, birth and intensifying, represented by the intense colors of crimson, black, burgundy and maroon. It is associated with the genital and excretory systems.
  • Sagittarius: this sign is characterized by enlargement and uplifting, and associated with the liver, thighs and autonomic nervous system. Ruled by Jupiter, the corresponding colors are purple, plum and dark blue.
  • Capricorn: this sign refers to structure and discipline and is influenced by the skeletal system and skin. Saturn influences this sign and associated colors are black, charcoal and dark brown.
  • Aquarius: this energizing and innovative sign is ruled by Uranus and associated physically with the bioelectric impulses and ankles. Colors for this sign are turquoise and aquamarine, which calm the emotions.
  • Pisces: this sign is associated with colors or the ocean, such as shades of indigo, blue and specifically sea-foam green. This sign is ruled by Neptune, it unifies and empathizes, and is physically linked to the lymphatic system, body fluids and the psyche.

One last observation on this Meaning of Color discussion is to examine what a “favorite color” says about a person. The color that instinctively comes to mind when asked to choose a favorite is considered the personality color. This color says a lot about self-perception as well as how this person is perceived in the world. It plays a role in mental, physical and emotional states. Typically, the most dominant color chosen in their surroundings, including wardrobe, is the personality color. Additionally, aversion to a certain color or colors may point to areas in our lives that need attention.

  • Red: seeking physical fulfillment. Tend to be loving, passionate, courageous, and sometimes fiery and short-tempered.
  • Orange: craves socialization, acceptance and also physical and social challenges. Likely to be flamboyant, lively, social and fun-loving.
  • Yellow: has a sharp, logical mind, and a desire to create something new. May be a dreamer, and/ or a perfectionist, but generally have big goals and are fun to be around.
  • Green: is open and emotional, crave love, wish to give love, and have a need for acceptance and acknowledgement. Tend to be loyal and supportive partners.
  • Blue: inner peace, ideals, truths and beliefs are at the core. Tend to be spiritually inclined, compassionate and peaceful. Likely creative.
  • Indigo: generally one with the higher consciousness and the universe.
  • Purple: loves helping others and crave emotional security. Desire order and perfection in everything. Mysterious, imaginative and hard to understand completely.
  • Pink: needs love and seek acceptance constantly. Also like to portray themselves as delicate, abhor violence and tend to keep emotions a secret.
  • Turquoise: seeks emotional balance and creates order on their idealistic terms. Complex, imaginative and original with often a tumultuous interior.
  • Black: emotionally contained, decisive, serious, powerful, strong, confident and sometimes introverted.
  • Brown: tend to have stamina and patience, as well as stability. Are generally dependable, responsible and kind. May also be obstinate and inflexible.
  • White: tend to be innocent, pure and perfectionists. Confident with strong ideals, and love for white also symbolizes openness and fearlessness.

If nothing else, I hope this information encourages the reader to look at the world just a bit differently. Whether it be meeting interior design goals or creating an awareness of emotions that are affected by their environment, seeing the world in a different light is always a good thing.

Who has the most buying power today? Hint: Women.

It is no surprise that women are the dominant voice behind the majority of household purchases today, influencing brand selection and loyalty, buying frequency and methodology. Women have long held the traditional role in running the household, which naturally includes maintaining and purchasing furnishings, appliances, cleaning supplies, food, clothing and other related items. While women have always had a great deal of influence in such areas, what may be surprising is just how much buying power women have accumulated over the last few decades and how their influence has extended much farther than traditional household purchase decisions.

Given the troves of market research released in the last 10 years that have predicted and documented the rise of women’s personal wealth and professional and educational advancement, paired with an increase in non-traditional family household roles, what is really surprising is how slow many marketers have been to respond and effectively capture their real target. The rising influence of women has been a consistent trend and their buying power and influence is well documented with statistics such as: women account for 85% of all consumer purchases, including everything from autos to health care; women will control two-thirds of the consumer wealth in the U.S. over the next decade and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history; in 2013, women earned 62% of all associate’s degrees, 57% of all bachelor’s degrees, 60% of all master’s degrees and 52% of all doctor’s degrees; women comprised 46% of the Super Bowl’s viewers, with nearly half stating they preferred ads to any other part of the game.

According to the Harvard Business Review, women now drive the world economy. While this may not be news to many marketers, many need to reevaluate just how to effectively reach and attract the female consumer without being condescending or patronizing, or completely underestimating their audience. Marketers may be aware of women’s influence on purchasing decisions, yet continue to use outdated stereotypes about their role in the household and workplace, ignoring their growing influence in the world at large; the number of working women in the U.S. is about to surpass the number of working men, with an estimated total income of $18 Trillion in 2014, up from $13 Trillion in 2009.

Looking specifically at women in the workplace, many shifts have taken place over the last few decades. Education and a shift in traditional family roles have clearly had an influence. According to a recent article in Time magazine, women hold nearly half of the non-farm jobs in the U.S. and own nearly one third of companies. In terms of mothers, 64% of mothers with children under the age of 6 work outside the home, and 40% of all households with kids under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family. The tides have clearly shifted in terms of the traditional role in the family of the “bread-winner” and looks to continue skewing more favorably towards women. In 1990, 25% of wives earned more than the husband, and by 2008 that number increased to 35%. It also appears as if pay equity among genders is improving, with single, childless women in their 20s currently making more money than their male peers in 47 of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas. According to a 2012 Media Post article, it is projected that by 2028, the average woman is expected to earn more than the average male.

Women have always made the majority of household spending decisions, as 75% of women identified themselves as the primary shoppers for their households, and they will have even more purchasing power as they continue to contribute more money to their households. As of now, women control more than 60% of all personal wealth in the U.S. and account for over 50% of stock ownership. Some of the greatest opportunities for marketers to tap into the more powerful, educated, independent and evolved female consumer lie with traditional male oriented products and services. Automobiles and servicing, financial services, home improvement products and consumer electronics are some areas where women feel greatly underserved and misunderstood by marketers. Yet, their spending in these areas greatly outweigh men.

Taking the automobile industry into greater focus, women account for 65% of new car purchases, request 65% of service work done at dealerships and influence up to 80% of all car purchases. Additionally, women account for 45% of light truck and SUV purchases. Yet, more than 75% of women polled feel they are misunderstood by car marketers and only 38% feel comfortable and confident in the car-buying arena. Perhaps one of the biggest problems facing industries trying to more effectively market to women lies within their own corporate structure, as only 17% of all employees in the auto industry are women. Surprisingly, this statistic resonates within a traditionally female-targeted industry: beauty products. This too is incredibly a male-dominated industry, as women are well represented in entry-level jobs but drop off drastically at executive and senior leadership levels. The result is that men make hit-or-miss guesses about what women want and products come and go at a rapid rate. With both industries, a good step towards gaining market share would be to put more women at the top to help make the key decisions about what resonates with target customers.

The Harvard Business Review study offered an insightful approach to marketers to further categorize the female consumer into 6 distinct segments, rather than just taking into account age and income. These segments take into account marital status, children, their stage in life, as well as professional status. Using these variables as guidelines, they further identified characteristics of each segment and what types of purchase were important as well as what emotional components were attached. The six key female consumer segments were identified as:

  • making ends meet
  • relationship focused
  • fast-tracker
  • pressure cooker
  • fulfilled empty nester and
  • managing on her own.

Rather than broadly marketing to women as one group, marketers will be well served to fully understand each segment and which they need to capture, as women will increasingly resist being cast into stereotypes or segmented only by age, income or child-status.

Another important consideration for marketers is women’s relationship with the Internet, how they seek and share information and how they communicate. Internet usage and social media may have a 30+ year history, but its real impact on the world of advertising has taken place over the past 5-8 years, disrupting a traditional model that had been in place for nearly 100 years. Even the advent of television and cable were merely extensions of existing models; social media has provided the interactivity and communication tools to dramatically empower the female voice, as females are the primary users. Women spend an average 2 hours per day using social media, with some saying their best friends they know only through Facebook or Twitter and 24% of women claiming they would rather socialize through social media than in person. Other important statistics show that women account for 58% of total online spending and 22% shop online at least once a day. Not only are they the top consumers via Internet, but women share deals and information, regularly blogging about products and deals and actively seeking advice from their female peers.

The female market is a huge opportunity for marketers in all consumer segments and it would be wise for them to better understand just who their target audience is. As the dominant voice in nearly all consumer good categories, women are universally vocal about being dissatisfied, underserved and misunderstood. Knowing whom you’re targeting and what she looks for in the marketplace is a huge advantage, particularly in known businesses where women are most likely to spend more or trade up, such as food, beauty, fitness and apparel. Yet with the aforementioned statistics on being the primary decision maker for purchases such as home furnishings, vacations, automobiles, health care and consumer products, it is time for a general shift in the marketplace to take a closer look at who really has the buying power and how to reach them.