Posts tagged with "Instagram"

What’s with all of the decluttering?

January 17, 2019

Healthcare. Gun control. Privacy. Global warming. At a time when most major issues are out of our control, Americans have focused on the pressing need for decluttering. If we cannot fix the world, at least we can bring some order to our own small parts of it.

It began back in 2014, with a manifesto by a professional organizer based in Japan—“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”—and it has built to a cultural climax with the hit Netflix series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”

And while, The Chicago Tribune reports, Marie Kondo’s minimalist manifesto is a phenomenon unto itself, with Twitter testimonials (#tidying, #konmari) and hundreds of YouTube videos, the author also has helped to espouse a broader societal cleaning spree: Your family, friends, and neighbors are accepting the 40 Bags in 40 Days (#40bagsin40days on Twitter) clutter-removal challenge—which runs from March 6 through April 20 this year.

They are listening to Graham Hill’s TED Talk (“Less Stuff, More Happiness,” with 4.4 million views and counting), posting photos of dumped junk on Instagram, and snapping up popular get-rid-of-it guides targeting minimalists (“The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay).

“The whole decluttering thing is a huge trend right now,” Kristin Collins, 40, of Raleigh, North Carolina, told the Tribune. She has been on a self-described clutter reduction “bender” for the last few years. “It’s what everyone’s talking about.”

Collins, a communications professional who lives with her husband and their nine-year-old daughter, told the news outlet that she doesn’t even have to purchase kid clutter; it comes to her. “Birthday parties (mean) piles of presents, and there’s treasure boxes at school, and they come home with all these cheap junky toys and goody bags, and then grandparents are shipping lots of cheap stuff from Walmart that breaks in the first two weeks and scatters on your floor. I feel like we’re at a point where it’s reaching a critical mass and people are just losing their minds

How did decluttering rise through the ranks of the American self-improvement agenda?

In a pioneering 2001-2005 University of California at Los Angeles study that sent researchers into the homes of 32 middle-class families to carefully chronicle their possessions, researchers found refrigerators covered with magnets, photos, calendars, memos, and kids’ art; common spaces full of toys; shelves stuffed to overflowing with DVDs, books; and mementos; and garages so full of boxes, bins and rejected furniture that there was no room left for cars.

The researchers began their report on “The Clutter Culture,” by describing the value system of the home owners: “Get stuff. Buy stuff. Get more of it. Keep that, too. Display it all, and proudly.”

“One thing that was really striking to everybody that worked on this study was just how much of a clutter crisis our families are facing right now,” Darby Saxbe, now a professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California, told the Chicago Tribune. “They were surrounded by stuff to the point where it seemed emotionally and physically stressful and taxing for them.”

Saxbe traces the clutter buildup, in part, to unprecedented access to deeply discounted consumer goods.

“We’ve got Walmart, where you can buy anything for $10, and we’ve become used to this very acquisitive style, where if you can’t find your stapler, you just go buy another stapler,” she said “I was just reading the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ books with my daughter, and if they wanted a doll, for example, they had to make it, and it was incredibly labor-intensive.”

Ergo, the success of Kondo’s book, which was a best-seller in Japan and Germany before hitting the U.S. market. The book—which is part cleaning memoir, part decluttering how-to—centers on the author’s personal “revelation” that our possessions, themselves, create stress. As a young girl, she learned to cull them mercilessly, keeping only those things that brought her joy. She built a system of decluttering based on that insight, as well as a business.

In a true Kondo household, every object has its place and is returned to it religiously after it is used. Kondo makes the remarkable — and very seductive — claim that no one who has completed her private tidying course, which involves a one-time, full-home purge, has rebounded into disarray. No one.

“This whole Marie Kondo thing has changed my life,” Jamie Gutfreund, the global chief marketing officer at the global digital agency Wunderman, told the Tribune.”Everybody who knows me right now is so tired of me talking about it, because I feel so much better,” Gutfreund says. “I really feel so much better. I (used to) lose my glasses every day. The whole thing is, you have to respect your items, and you have to put them in the places where they’re supposed to go. So now I’m putting my glasses where they’re supposed to go, and I don’t lose them — funny! I probably gained 20 minutes a day.”

There’s also an emotional aspect to decluttering, and for some a spiritual one. Like meditation and yoga, decluttering appeals to overscheduled Americans seeking calm and focus, Gutfreund says.

And that’s the key to the decluttering revolution—that sense of calm and control within the turbulence that characterizes our current society.

“I am the opposite of a neat freak — I’ve always been a messy person,” Collins says. “But even I just feel a sense of calm when there’s not stuff piled in every corner of my house.”

Research contact: @Marie Kondo

You can lead Millennials to water, but Recess might be the beverage of choice in 2019

January 10, 2019

Not tired, not wired.” That’s how a new, non-alcoholic, decaf drink called Recess will make you feel after just a few sips—or so says the eponymously named start-up company that produces it out of New York’s Hudson Valley (and markets it out of New York City).

According to a report by The New York Times, the new beverage checks every box for Millennials: Bubbles? Yes. CBD? Check. Sans-serif block font? Yeah! A knowing, nudging, creepily on-point Instagram presence? Obviously.

The news outlet notes that the drink is a sparkling water infused with CBD (government name: cannabidiol)—a non-intoxicating ingredient that is said to act as a pain reliever, anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, and “chillifier.”

It currently is available in three flavors—Pom Hibiscus, Peach Ginger, and Blackberry Chai—and, in addition to the hemp extract, it contains what the company calls “adoptogens,” among them:

  • American ginseng to help customers focus and improve memory;
  • L-theanine, to reduce stress with the help of green tea; and
  • Schisandra to boost immunity and promote a balanced state of mind.

And who better to target the drink at Millennials than company Co-founder and CEO Benjamin Witte, an age 29 entrepreneur who previously worked in tech marketing in San Francisco.

“We canned a feeling,” whispers the copy on the Recess website. The site uses phrases like “the unlikely friendship we’re here for” and, regarding a sample pack, “for those who fear commitment”—“channeling the half-embarrassed self-aware sincerity that defines the Millennial mood,” according to the Times.

The site, social media, and product all read, “Calm Cool Collected,” an apparent mantra and marketing tagline in the soothing lexicon of self-improvement. The cans of Recess,  are tinted in palliative pastel colors of pink, peach, and purple; with minimalist typography reminiscent of such popular brands as Casper and Allbirds.

For those discerning shoppers who are seeking a healthful alternative to mineral water, sparkling water, seltzer—and yes, just plain water—Recess offers a rare alcohol-free, caffeine-free, and almost sugar-free experience.

Research contact: @benwitte

Who are ‘influencers’ and how do they get paid?

December 17, 2018

If you enter the hashtag #influencer on Instagram, you’ll quickly navigate to a page with nearly 10 million posts. But that’s only the tip of the influencer iceberg, so to speak. According to Mediakix, there will be 21.7 million brand-sponsored influencer posts on Instagram by the end of the year—and 32.3 million by the end of 2019.

From micro-influencers making $50 per post to Instagram superstars like singer Ariana Grande , who command half a million dollars per post, the Instagram influencer market runs the gamut in terms of following, audience, and engagement; and it has even the biggest brands buying in. AdidasSamsungAmerican ExpressMicrosoft, and many more are finding ways to partner with Instagram influencers to reach their audiences and create new ones.

But how do you get started? In the case of Amber Venz (#venzedits), who spoke to CNN for a December 12 report, by the time she was in high school, she was designing and selling jewelry. And by the time she was 23, Venz was running a website that showcased her work as a personal shopper

 “I posted three times a day, and it was like trend stories and sale alerts,” Venz told the network news outlet.

Within a few months, the site was generating so much buzz around her hometown of Dallas that The Dallas Morning News ran a full-page story about her site. “It said ‘Meet the Blogger… She is now doing all these services online for free.’ My blog actually became quite famous,” she says.

But the “for free” part irked her. According to the CNN rags-to-riches tale, Baxter Box (who was her boyfriend at the time and is now her husband) got her thinking about how she could make money from the “free” fashion and style tips she was offering on her site. That’s when they came up with RewardStyle, an invitation-only platform that allows fashion and lifestyle bloggers and influencers to make money from the content they post.

Created in 2010, the company website says, “RewardStyle influencers have exclusive access to an innovative ecosystem of monetization tools, a global network of 4,500+ retail partners, and tailored growth services-all designed to power the monetization of your content.”

Today, the website has formed a global community of more than 250 team members, 30,000 top-tier influencers, and 1 million brand partners across more than 100 countries.

“With a proprietary ecosystem of innovative technology, strategic growth consulting, global brand partnerships, and expansive consumer distribution, we’re doing more than just monetizing the industry—we’re defining it,” Venez claims.

Here’s how it works, CNN reports: Bloggers write a post or post a photo on social media and hyperlink to a particular brand or retailer’s web site. If a person clicks on the link and purchases the featured product, then the blogger gets a commission. Venz says the commissions vary depending on the brand, but are typically between 10% and 20%.

RewardStyle gets a cut as well, but Venz wouldn’t disclose how much the company makes each time an influencer helps make a sale. “Everyone only gets paid when a consumer actually makes a purchase and the retailer is paid. It is all commission-based,” she said.

“These are primarily women who love fashion or interiors or talking about their family or their fitness routines and they have attracted an audience that loves their point of view and comes to their content on a daily basis,” says Venz. “We’ve given them a way to monetize that.”

And 4,500 brands, including Walmart, CVS, Amazon and Gucci, also use the platform, which has racked up $3.8 billion in total sales since it was founded.

Despite the company’s success, Venz told the news outlet that wants to keep innovating. “We are not low on ideas. So the thinking that we’ve peaked early is honestly not something that’s crossed my mind,” she says.

In 2017, for example, the business introduced a consumer shopping app called LIKEtoKNOW.it. The app lets users take a screenshot of content anywhere on the internet created by an influencer. RewardStyle will then send them links to buy the products that appear in the screenshot. The app has 2 million users and has generated $210 million in sales for its retail partners so far.

“One of the things I love about RewardStyle is that it is empowering thousands of women to do the thing I always wanted to do, which was work in the fashion and media industry,” says Venz.

Research contact: @rewardStyle

‘Getting jaded’ could be good for you: The new face roller craze

December 12, 2018

Instagram seems to be “on a roll” when it comes to skin care: Forget the high-tech masks, the “friendly bacteria,” and the dry-brush exfoliation. The latest (ahem) “wrinkle” in style is jade rollers—not for your body, but for your face.

According to a December 10 report by Prevention magazine, “Jade rollers are not a skin care necessity, like face wash or moisturizer. However, if you enjoy pampering yourself and want to give your complexion a little TLC, jade rollers can be a helpful addition to your daily routine, especially if you deal with puffy skin.” Others praise the rollers for firming the skin, increasing circulation, and decreasing inflammation.

For the uninitiated, a jade roller is a small beauty tool that looks like a miniature paint roller—except it’s made of stone and owning one is viewed as chic and upscale In the same way that your muscles feel more relaxed after a nice massage, the skin on your face can experience a release of tension when you use a jade roller properly, according to the fanbase on Instagram.

Prevention informs us: “Take one look through the 30,000 posts tagged #jaderoller on Instagram and you’ll find countless women massaging their face with the tool, often after applying a sheet mask or serum.

The use of the gemstone jade plays a vital role here, Prevention notes—thanks to its ability to maintain a cool temperature, despite being exposed to body heat. In fact, one of the ways to tell if it’s really jade in the first place is to place the stone in the palm of your hand. If it warms up, then it’s not jade.

How exactly does it improve your facial skin? “We do know that fluid tends to accumulate in the soft tissue of the face and around the eyes, which can worsen with allergies, rosacea, high blood pressure, and hormonal changes, and it can start to change the texture of the skin on the face if left there for prolonged periods of time,” Dr. Erum Ilyas, a dermatologist at Montgomery Dermatology in Pennyslvania, told Prevention in a recent interview. “Aside from medications, the use of a jade roller to gently work this excess fluid back into the lymphatic system can help control the effects of this swelling.”

If your goal is to reduce puffiness under the eyes and mitigate dark circles, it’s best to keep your roller in the refrigerator prior to use, Dr. Ilyas advises.

“A desired eye and face serum must be applied to clean skin prior to rolling as well, ideally one containing hyaluronic acid, which holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water,” Bobbi Del Balzo, lead medical aesthetician at the Deep Blue Med Spa in New York, told the magazine. Another handy hint: You can apply a hydrating sheet and use the jade roller over it.

For lymphatic drainage, it’s all in the technique, says Dr. Ilyas, and should take a few minutes at most:

  • Start with the bottom of the face—specifically the center of the chin—and work your way up, rolling outward across the jaw and up toward the ear. Follow this same pattern all the way out towards the cheek.
  • Next, start adjacent to the nose and roll outward over your cheek towards your ears.
  • Using the smaller stone end of your jade roller, work from the inner lower eyelid over the gentle skin under the eye and outward to the temple.
  • Place the roller between your eyebrows and roll out over each eyebrow, again slightly above this area, then straight up towards the hairline.

If you are intrigued, the cost is not too high. Many face rollers are under $20, and most are under $100.

Just how trendy are these face rollers? Even Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop has one for sale—a doo-hickey that is made of rose quartz and, the website claims, will “wake up your entire face” for just $45.

Research contact: @jennsinrich

Dog tired: Italian Ikea store opens doors to stray pooches

December 4, 2018

Animal lovers are giving an Ikea store in Catania, Italy, a big social-media smooch after photos appeared on online showing stray pooches sleeping among the furniture displays.

Martine Taccia was shopping at the Ikea when she saw the dogs relaxing near a living room display, The Dodo reports. “My reaction was pure amazement. It’s not a common thing,” Taccia told the animal news site.

Taccia said she had found out that the furniture and appliance store opens its doors to strays in cold weather and even provides food and water. “The dogs receive daily food and pampering from Ikea’s employees and customers,” Taccia says. “Some dogs have even found a family, going home with customers.”

She immediately posted the news to her Facebook page—and the shares and likes continue to multiply.

According to the comments on the photos, dog lovers are giving this one store’s policy a big thumbs up. “Thank God there are still good people in the world who help poor animals,” one friend wrote on Instagram.

Another customer, Beppe Liotta, was likewise smitten with the store’s dog-friendly initiative. “I felt a feeling of deep tenderness and great happiness in seeing dogs crouched in the exhibition space at the entrance of the IKEA,” Liotta told The Dodo.

As a self-proclaimed animal lover, Liotta told the news outlet that he hopes other businesses will follow suit by opening their doors (and their hearts) to animals whose sad circumstances are all too often overlooked.

“If all the stores that had the space would make a place of refuge for strays, I would be really happy,” he said.

Research contact: stephen@thedodo.com

Co-founders of Instagram to step down

September 26, 2018

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of the photo-sharing app Instagram, have resigned and plan to leave the social media platform in the coming weeks, according to a September 24 report by The New York Times.

The company, launched in 2010, has been a subsidiary of Facebook since 2012, when Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg acquired it for $1 billion in cash and stock. Since then, Instagram has grown substantially—with more than 1 billion monthly users now logging on to the image- and video-sharing giant.

Systrom and Krieger did not give a reason for stepping down, according to insiders with knowledge of the situation. In a public statement released late on September 24, Systrom said he and Krieger were “ready for our next chapter,” and hinted broadly that they would create another innovative business.

“Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do,” he said.

Zuckerberg praised the Instagram founders in a statement and said that he wished them “all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next.”

However, industry scuttlebutt supports the notion the Zuckerberg, himself, may be the reason for their departure. Based on a report by MSN, Systrom and Krieger, “had been able to keep the brand and product independent [for much of the past six years] while relying on Facebook’s infrastructure and resources to grow. Lately, they were frustrated with an uptick in day-to-day involvement by Zuckerberg, who has become more reliant on Instagram in planning for Facebook’s future, said [the insiders], who asked not to be identified sharing internal details.”

According to the Times report, Facebook has lost other founders of businesses it has acquired. In April, Jan Koum, a Facebook board member and a founder of WhatsApp, the messaging app that the social network purchased in 2014, said he was leaving. Koum had grown increasingly concerned about Facebook’s position on user data in recent years, people with knowledge of the situation said at the time.

In Silicon Valley, reaction to the Instagram founders’ resignation was swift, the Times reported.“Wow,” tweeted John Lilly, a venture capitalist at Greylock, calling the exits “a real moment.” He added, “What an impact they’ve had on all of us.”

The departures of the co-founders now create uncertainty at the company. It is unclear who will take the lead and if that person can continue Instagram’s longstanding success streak.

Marne Levine, who was previously Instagram’s COO, left her role at Instagram earlier this month to return to Facebook and lead partnerships, the Times noted.

Research contact: Mike.Isaac@nytimes.com

Brits are wearing clothes once, for the ‘hashtag moment,’ before returning them

August 14, 2018

Buying clothes for a special event, tucking in the tags—and then returning them to the store the next day (hopefully, with no noticeable stains or stench)—is a notorious strategy of stingy shoppers. But today, people are doing it just for the social media status.

Indeed, based on findings of a recent poll conducted by payments company Barclaycard, and posted on Quartz, nearly 9% of UK shoppers admit to buying clothing only to take a photo on social media. After the outfit of the day makes it online, they return it to the retailer.

The survey of 2,002 adults showed that shoppers aged 35-44 are the most likely to do this, and, surprisingly enough. men outnumbered women. The study found that it is men who are more  socially self-conscious  than women – with 12%t posting a clothing item on social media and then returning it to an online retailer, compared to only 7% of women

According to Barclaycard, the introduction of “try before you buy” policies at online retailers—where people pay for clothing they ordered online after they’ve tried it on at home—could be contributing to this trend.

One major reason? The rise of social media means that everyone, not just celebrities, is expected to maintain and curate a personal brand. Since we’re constantly documenting our lives and posting them online for public comment, nobody wants to get caught in the same outfit twice.

There are brands that tailor specifically to the Instagram shopper, such as Fashion Nova. “These are clothes made for social media: meant to be worn once, maybe twice, photographed, and discarded,” Allison P. Davis wrote in her deep-dive about the company in New York Magazine’s “The Cut.” Another favorite of the Instagram age is Rent the Runway, which embraces the return philosophy and allows customers to rent designer clothing for a fee.

Some, however, are moving in the opposite direction. The concept of the “capsule wardrobe”—which calls for investing in a small number of high-quality pieces instead of lots of trendy, discardable clothes—also is making a comeback according to a recent report by The Washington Post.

And then there’s British fashion icon Kate Middleton  the Duchess of Cambridge, whose every outfit sells out in seconds, but who frequently wears the same outfit twice (as did former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, another trendsetter).

Research contact: Rebecca.butler@barclaycard.co.uk

More than just a pretty face: ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’

August 9, 2018

Selfies are the “feature films” we take of ourselves. If we are happy with the original shot, that’s fine. But many of us have taken to “erasing” any imperfections—by using apps and filters such as Facetune to smooth out skin; and to give our eyes, nose, and lips a little tweak. We might even use Snapchat to produce an idealized version of our visage (as well as to add rainbows or puppy ears).

It’s all in good fun, right? Not so much. In fact, according to a study published on August 2 by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Network, the demand for a certain type of plastic surgery has increased, due to a new disorder dubbed “Snapchat dysmorphia.”

The study—conducted by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology—notes a growing trend: People are bringing in their own selfies to plastic surgeons, usually edited with a smartphone application, and asking to look more like these glorified photos.

The phenomenon is causing widespread concern among experts, who are worried about its negative effect on people’s self-esteem and its potential to trigger body dysmorphic disorder, a mental illness classified on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum, The Washington Post reported on August 8.

“This is an alarming trend because those filtered selfies often present an unattainable look and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients,” the research has found.

The condition is a mental disorder that causes people to be “extremely preoccupied with a perceived flaw in appearance that to others can’t be seen or appears minor,” according to the Mayo Clinic. People who have body dysmorphic disorder tend to obsess over their appearance and body image—often checking the mirror, grooming or seeking reassurance for many hours a day, the clinic said. Treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy and medication

Neelam Vashi, M.D. ,an assistant professor of Dermatology at the school and one of the article’s authors, told the Post in an interview that Snapchat dysmorphia is a result of people now being able to edit away any imperfections with ease.

“It’s remarkable,” said Vashi, who is also a board-certified dermatologist. “What used to lie in the hands of … celebrities … people who were innately beautiful made to look more beautiful … now it’s in the hands of anyone.”

On Snapchat, for example, the picture messaging application features upward of 20 filters that users can toggle through by simply swiping across their phone screens. Aside from adding flower crowns or puppy ears, filters can give a person freckles, longer eyelashes, wider eyes and flawless skin, among other augmentations. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter also allow people to edit their photos in the application before uploading.

Other applications such as Facetune take things a step further. For $3.99, users have access to a host of editing tools such as teeth whitening and making a person’s forehead, nose or waist smaller. While people most often use filters or editing software for minor fixes such as clearing blemishes or plumping lips, Vashi said traditional cosmetic procedures largely can’t reproduce the “instant fix” people see in their edited photos.

Based on findings of an annual survey conducted by the  American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, selfies continue to be a driving force behind why people wish to get plastic surgery done. In 2017, the survey found that 55% of surgeons reported seeing patients who requested surgery to look better in selfies—a 13% increase from the previous year’s results.

Vashi told the Post that it is unlikely that people will change their behavior in the near future. “It sounds like people are still going to do it because they like it. They like the way they look,” she said. “I’m just one small person in a big world, I can’t change everything, but I can make people aware and recognize and know that it’s not the real world. It’s like living in a fantasy.”

Research contact: @NeelamVashi

Beauty shoppers spend 80% of ‘purchase experience’ looking at ads, articles, social media

July 17, 2018

A relatively self-serving study sponsored by Condé Nast—publisher of such magazines as Allure, Glamour, Self, Vogue, and W—has found that, in the beauty category, consumers spend 80% of their time in the “pre-search” or “influence” phase of shopping, with a spate of publications, social media, advertising, and celebrities affecting their final purchases.

The study, fielded by the research firm Tapestry and posted on Retail Dive on July 16, found that, similarly, fashion consumers spend 69% of their time in the pre-search stage and are most motivated by advertising; as compared to tech consumers, 65% of whom are influenced by ads “outside of their buying needs.”

Interestingly enough, both beauty and fashion buyers say a couple of brands are “top of mind”—even before they start looking. Fully 79% of respondents admitted they had brands in mind before their search—and 69% pay more attention to ads from sources they know and trust. In fact, more than half of shoppers (52%) spend their full decision time deciding between just two brands.

The outliers? Fifty-three percent of fashion consumers and 64% of 13- to 17-year-old shoppers purchase the brand they first considered.

With influential beauty and fashion publications in its inventory, Condé Nast found that its brands have three times more influence on consumer decisions than Google and Facebook, with three in four respondents saying they trust Condé Nast brands to recommend products. More than 90% trusted Glamour, GQ and Vogue for fashion recommendations; as well Glamour and Allure for cosmetics. Indeed, Consumers were 50% more likely to list a Condé Nast brand in the pre-search phase and think more highly of brands that advertise with Condé Nast, compared to Google and Facebook. Specifically, Condé Nast is 26% more likely to drive purchase intent than tech giants Facebook and Google, based on the study findings.

Other research has revealed that social media plays a major role in driving purchases, especially among younger consumers. A Yes Lifecycle Marketing report released last year found that 57% of consumers across different generations say social media influences their shopping decisions; while 80% of Gen-Zers and 74% of Millennials said social channels influence their shopping. Instagram was a key driver of fashion, beauty and style-focused purchase for 72%, a 2017 Dana Rebecca Designs survey found.

Research contact: @CondeNast