Jamie Oliver leads drive to buy misshapen fruit and vegetables

Asda to sell produce at discount in national trial starting end of January in drive to cut down on food waste

Jamie Oliver, who has led the campaign for improved school meals, is turning his attention to a campaign encouraging shoppers to buy “crooked” carrots, knobbly pears and wonky potatoes, in an effort to reduce food waste.

Misshapen but perfectly edible fruit and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste will be sold by Asda at discounted prices in a national trial starting at the end of January.

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Austerity cuts will bite even harder in 2015 – another £12bn will go

During five years of austerity, Britain has not experienced the wave of protest seen in other countries. That could change – this is a pivotal year in the race to reshape the nature of the state

George Osborne says the coverage of looming new spending cuts has been “hyperbolic”, but away from Downing Street there is a strong consensus that the cumulative effect of five years of austerity will make the next wave of cuts, in 2015, very painful.

Four more years of austerity is “a price that works for our country”, Osborne said as he outlined his strategy. The Institute for Fiscal Studies responded by warning that “colossal” cuts to the state would take total government spending to its lowest level as a proportion of national income since before the second world war. By the end of the process, “the role and shape of the state will have changed beyond recognition”, the think tank said. So far, £35bn has been cut; the plan is to cut a further £55bn by 2019.

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Snapchat reveals $485m of funding at a reported $10bn valuation

Lawsuits, leaked snaps and regulatory scrutiny haven’t put investors off messaging app as it finally starts making money from ads

Messaging app Snapchat has raised its latest round of funding, $485.6m, which may value the US-based company at more than $10bn.

The funding was revealed in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), with 23 investors taking part in the round, which takes Snapchat’s total funding so far to just under $648m.

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White Castle puts a veggie burger on the menu, but don't worry, it's still fattening


NEW YORK — White Castle is offering a vegetarian version of its famous sliders, but they're not necessarily for dieters.

The hamburger chain says it will offer the Veggie Slider for $0.99 each for a limited time at its 400 locations in 12 states.

The sliders range between 150 and 270 calories, with customers able to choose from three sauces — honey mustard, ranch and sweet Thai. Regular beef sliders range between 140 and 220 calories, depending on the topping, according to White Castle's website.

This isn’t your garden variety Slider. Introducing White Castle’s new Veggie Sliderhttp://ift.tt/1AbKSRy

— White Castle (@WhiteCastle) December 30, 2014

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Chinese manufacturing growth slumps to its lowest point for a year

Activity in factories and workshops is close to contraction, official index shows, as sector struggles with falling demand and struggling property market

China’s manufacturing growth dropped in December to its lowest level of 2014, an official survey showed on Thursday, as the sector struggles with weak domestic demand.

After a rough 2014, the world’s second-largest economy looks set to start the new year on a weak note, reinforcing expectations that Beijing will roll out more stimulus to avert a sharper slowdown which may trigger job losses and debt defaults.

A property slump is expected to last well into 2015, companies will continue to struggle to pay off debt and export demand may remain erratic, leaving only the services sector as the lone bright spot in the economy.

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Incarceration and Communication: Why Meaningful Social Relationships Matter


Photo copyright Cosmin Gheorghe

It all became obvious to me while reading Franz Kafka's Letter to My Father, probably one of the finest psychological assessments of a parent-child relationship. Kafka skillfully navigates the line between blame and responsibility, between chance and conscious decision making, which are all so fundamentally different in the case of an adult and in the case of a child.

Kafka never mailed the letter to his father, continuing a lifetime pattern of repressed emotions and lack of communication. We will never know how Kafka's father would have reacted to that letter, but one thing is clear: Connection and communication are essential if a relationship is to exist.

The tremendous negative results of broken or unskillful communication are even more obvious in the light of Ferguson and Staten Island incidents. We live in one of the most prosperous nations in the world, one that even contains the word "united" in its name. Still, no fewer than 458 Americans died at the hands of police in 2013, compared with just eight in Germany and zero in both Japan and the UK.

Also, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the developed world: 2.3 million men and women, or one in every 104 of the nation's adults, are behind bars. The incarceration rate is higher in the U.S. than it is in Russia, China or Iran -- company the U.S. should not want to be in.

Although incarceration seems to be very popular in the U.S., research is ambiguous about its corrective value, specifically when it's about small offenses. But studies have consistently found that prisoners who maintain close contact with their family members while incarcerated have better post-release outcomes and lower recidivism rates. A 2011 report by the Vera Institute of Justice states:

Research shows that incarcerated people who maintain supportive relationships with family members have better outcomes -- such as stable housing and employment -- when they return to the community.

We can go a step further and argue that what needs to happen in offenders' lives is the exact opposite of incarceration: an increase in quality social relationships, not a complete cutoff from society and a concomitant increase in close relationships with other perpetrators.

Like many children, Blair Sandlain went her entire childhood with her father behind bars, and this experience gave her the idea to create an app that helps families bridge the communication gap that incarceration so often entails. Connect Inmate, which is free to download, aims to make it easy for families to communicate in a meaningful way with incarcerated loved ones.

She explains, "Often times what keeps inmates out of trouble and gives them hope is the awareness that someone outside cares for them."

Meanwhile, however, the U.S.'s habit of incarcerating people has created a profitable private prison industry. As David Shapiro, a staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project, writes on CNBC.com:

As incarceration rates skyrocket, the private prison industry expands at exponential rates. The number of inmates in private prisons increased by roughly 1600 percent between 1990 and 2009. In 2010, the two largest private prison companies alone took in nearly $3 billion in revenue, and their top executives each received annual compensation packages worth well over $3 million.

According to the Vera Institute, in 2010 we spent $39 billion in public money on incarceration, a portion of which is generating large profits for private prisons. The questions is: What is the impact on American cultural and social relationships when we, as a nation, allow corporations to profit from incarcerating more and more of our very own citizens?

Our knowledge of social and family relationships has changed significantly since 1919, when Kafka wrote -- but never sent -- that letter to his father. We now know so much more about the importance of meaningful human connection. And still it seems that, to a great extent, we prefer circulating money over creating social meaning.


Photo copyright Cosmin Gheorghe

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The Year 2014 for Organized Labor

It's something of a disgrace to have to admit that things have been so bad for organized labor for such a long time, that unless something truly horrendous or headline-grabbing happens during a particular year (e.g., an industry fails, a union membership is decimated), we tend not even to pay attention.

So tepid and uninspiring is the labor landscape, even the occasional strike or boycott is met with a collective "ho-hum." Meanwhile, private sector membership continues to dwindle, workers' power continues to be eroded, and corporations continue to find new ways of out-maneuvering the unions.

While 2014 was one of those "ho-hum" years, there were some notable exceptions. By engaging in a collective protest of their abysmally low wages, fast-food workers at national restaurant chains and were able to attract some prime-time media attention. Granted, their time in the limelight was short-lived and ephemeral, but these orchestrated protests were not only a step in the right direction, they were way overdue.

And Thomas Perez, who replaced Hilda Solis (and the interim Seth Harris), finished his first full year as Secretary of Labor in the Obama administration. Among the groups to endorse Perez's nomination were the AFL-CIO, UFW (United Farm Workers) and NAACP, so at the very least, Perez looked good on paper.

The woman he's replacing, Ms. Solis, did an adequate job as Labor Secretary (she resigned to run for Congress), particularly in regard to assisting low-level restaurant, hotel and carwash employees ("carwasheros"), most of whom are Latinos, and many of whom are systematically victimized by unscrupulous bosses. In fact, the Department of Labor was able to get criminal charges to stick against a couple of corrupt Southern California carwash owners, guilty of cheating workers out of their pay.

In the two years Perez has left on the job, he will have ample opportunity to show whether he's the real deal--a labor reformer and crusader--or just another ambitious, over-achieving Ivy Leaguer (Brown, Harvard Law) looking to pad his resume while sucking on the government teat (a la former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, another Harvard Law School product).

The last really impressive Secretary of Labor we had--arguably, second only to the legendary FDR appointee, Frances Perkins, the first woman Labor Secretary in history--was Robert Reich, who served in Clinton's first term before resigning in exasperation. He now teaches at UC Berkeley. Anyone interested in a fascinating insider's look at the Department of Labor would be advised to read Reich's memoir, "Locked in the Cabinet."

There was also a changing of the guard at the UAW (United Auto Workers), with Dennis Williams replacing outgoing president Bob King. Given its illustrious history and immeasurable influence on the American labor movement, focusing on the UAW's current state of affairs is almost too gruesome to contemplate.

Once boasting of 1.8 million members, the UAW is now down to a mere 390,000. By all accounts, Williams is a gamer, a fighter, ready to push for the reinstatement of boiler-plate contract language (including elimination of two-tier wages and benefits). The only question is: At this late stage, does he have the muscle to do it? Because he'll need every resource he can scrounge up to pull it off.

The year 2014 was a terrible one for public school teachers, as the greedy proponents of for-profit education attempted to demonize and vilify them, pretending that low test scores (themselves very misleading) were the direct result of substandard teachers--not only a specious argument but one calculated specifically to destroy America's teachers' unions.

Arguably, the only union that continues to behave like the proud unions of the 1950s and 1960s is the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union), and that's due solely to the fact that they have a firm grip on job security. As much as they would love to do so, the shipping companies can't relocate the West Coast ports to a Third World country, and pay cheap wages.

As a consequence, the shippers cannot stomach the fact that these longshoremen--unlike so many non-craft, blue-collar workers across the board--actually continue to earn a middle-class wage, something that was common in the 1950s, but is all too rare today. Keep on truckin', guys. You're an inspiration to union workers everywhere.

David Macaray, a playwright and author ("It's Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor," 2nd edition), was a former labor union rep. He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

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Minimum-Wage Increases: The Justice of Redistribution

As we enter the new year, 3 million low-wage workers in 21 states will gain a small increase in their wages, thanks to increases in state minimum wages. People you know will see a wage increase -- your neighbor, your teenage kid, the person who serves you coffee and donuts.

The minimum-wage increase is a good thing because it increases income in a small way to the workers on the low rungs of our economy. A stagnant minimum wage redistributes income from workers to owners and managers and, ultimately, shareholders and customers. As the minimum wage has failed to keep up with inflation and productivity increases, our political economy has redistributed significant income from low-wage workers to owners over the past 40 years. One reason this happened is that workers have no leverage vis-à-vis corporations. They are price takers for their labor.

Minimum-wage increases reverse this redistribution so that workers win back a little bit of what they have lost. Minimum wages should be associated with value added instead of the powerlessness of workers to demand higher wages. But minimum-wage workers are not compensated for the value of their work for their employers. Raising the wage begins to remedy that undercompensation. If the wage goes too high, then employers will not hire workers, because their compensation exceeds the value of their work. But as we have seen, this is not the case with minimum-wage increases, which simply means that for the past decades workers have been paid less than the value of their work for employers.

How does increasing the minimum wage redistribute income? An increase in the wage results in a decrease in the payments to managers and profits for the establishment. That's redistribution. We can argue that this might not happen because of productivity increases by the worker, but that merely means that the productivity increases (or a portion thereof) that might have gone to the employer instead go to the employee -- hence redistribution from owners to workers. Redistribution also can occur between worker and customer. If a restaurant increases prices due to an increase in the minimum wage, in an attempt to avoid a decrease in profits, then the customers pay more. These customers have the disposable income to patronize restaurants. We can make the assumption that the customers have greater incomes than the people who wait on them. Thus, an increase is again redistributive, with the increase coming from increased prices paid by customers. Imagine: In Seattle an Amazon IT person goes out to lunch. (It feels like they all do.) Instead of paying $15 at the Skillet truck, they pay $17. They have lost $2, and the Skillet truck workers will have seen an increase in their wages. Redistribution to minimum-wage workers is good for them and pushes up the floor for the bottom half of all wages.

We too often equate increasing the minimum wage with living standards and poverty levels. This is dangerous for several reasons, including the fact that it sets a precedent for slicing and dicing the minimum wage: Do you have dependents? Do you pay for your own health insurance? How old are you? Are you paying for tuition yourself? All these are important questions, but taken to their logical conclusion, they move the minimum wage into welfare policy, so that an 18-year-old student could get paid less than a 25-year-old who is on her parents' health insurance, and she might get paid less than a single mom with one kid, who could get paid less than a spouse in a household with three kids, etc. These are life situations best handled by social policy, social insurance and the appropriate provisions of public goods and services. But a focus on the minimum wage as welfare policy debases the fact that we should be raising the minimum wage because we should be insuring that workers are paid the value of their work. That is, such a focus disrespects workers as workers.

A lot of liberals don't want to call increases in the minimum wage "redistributive." It brings the reality of class conflict too close to the surface, apparently, and portrays workers as workers, not as victims. But in order for workers to not be victims, they must be compensated for the value of their work. That is not happening now, not in these United States. These state minimum-wage increases begin to reverse the damage, precisely because they are redistributive, from the owners of capital to the workers they employ. That is a good thing -- and an excellent beginning for the new year!

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What Malaysian-based Airlines Should Do to Respond to the Third Air Disaster in a Year

Airlines based in Malaysia are having a disastrous year. Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 mysteriously disappeared in early March of 2014. What happened to that flight is still a mystery since no wreckage has been found. Four months later, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 was brought down by a surface-to-air missile as it cruised above 30,000 feet -- an unprecedented event in modern civil aviation history. On Sunday, Air Asia flight 8501 vanished from radar screens as it headed to Singapore from Surabaya, Indonesia.

Image of air travel

Even though flying is the safest form of travel, the flying public is rattled by these disasters. It reminds people that they are really out of control when they are flying in a plane. Airline disasters are big news, and no matter what the underlying causes, they will affect the airlines that passengers choose when they fly. Any negative association with a brand name will affect business -- at least for a while

Image damage from the first disaster

Malaysia Airline's image suffered greatly from its mishandling of the first disaster. According to the Washington Post , "The carrier acknowledged publicly that it saw 'a major short-term reaction in consumer behavior' and 'observed high cancellation of existing bookings and reduction in long-haul bookings in favor of short-haul bookings' after Flight MH 370's disappearance."

More damage from the second

Even though Malaysia Airlines was not responsible for the rocket that took down its Flight MH 17 in July, some blamed Malaysia Airlines for flying through a war zone to save fuel and time. They point out that many U.S. and European airlines avoided the eastern Ukraine ever since the International Civil Aviation Organization warned them of the potential dangers related to the conflict there.

The third disaster involving a Malaysia-based airline in 9 months

Is it bad luck? Some issue related to pilot training or experience? Did air traffic control's denial of the pilot's request to change course play a part? Did the budget airline's financial difficulties contribute to this disaster? These are the questions people are asking in the wake of this third disaster within 9 months involving an air carrier based in Malaysia. According to the New York Times , the pilot and co-pilot of Flight 8501 had 6,100 and 2,275 hours of flying experience respectively. By comparison, the pilot of MH370 had over 18,000 hours of experience. The Air Asia pilot requested permission to fly higher because of thunderstorms, but was denied by air traffic control because of traffic. At this point, nobody knows the cause of this latest disaster, but these and many other questions linger.

Image of airlines based in Malaysia

Whatever the cause of the problem, three major disasters in one year is bound to hurt the image of Malaysia-based airlines. Right or wrong, this is going to have a negative impact on the image of airlines based in Malaysia.

What Malaysian-based Airlines should do to mitigate the image damage

While it will take some time to rebuild its image, Malaysia-based airlines should do the following:

  • Focus on the families of the passengers and the flying public. Any business is going to have difficulties from time to time, but the way it handles them is what most affects the attitudes and decisions of its target audience.

  • Limit the scope. While it will be difficult, Malaysia-based airlines should focus on their safety record prior to the past 9 months.

  • Propose a solution so it is unlikely to happen again. Even before the cause is determined, Malaysia should adopt stricter safety standards for the maintenance of aircraft, the training and experience of pilots and air traffic controllers, and give pilots more leeway to change course as a result of severe weather. Most importantly, it should communicate these efforts to the flying public.

Even if current safety standards are being met, the key issue of concern to Malaysia-based airlines should be the perception of the flying public. Like it or not, there is an image problem that cries out for a solution.

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How to Be a Healthier and Happier Entrepreneur in 2015

Nothing could be more exciting than following your dreams and launching your own business. Yet all too often, that initial excitement is dampened by the realities of running a company. It takes hard work, and with too many long days and late nights, entrepreneurs become tense, burnt out, and unhappy.

If any of this sounds familiar, let's make a pact to be happier, healthier, and better entrepreneurs this year. If you think that happiness is overrated in business, research from the University of California at Riverside found that happy people are more successful in many areas of life. It makes sense: when you're in a good mood, you're more confident, energetic, and ready to take on new goals and challenges.

With this in mind, here are five ways to stay happy, healthy, and sane amidst the inevitable stress and road bumps in the entrepreneur's year.

1. Don't get bogged down in the negative

When it's your own business and you are passionate about what to do, it's only natural that you take each critique personally. But keep in mind that for an entrepreneur, rejection is just part of the game. I can assure you that whenever you put something out for the world to see, there will be some kind of bad news or criticism...for example, your blog post may get a few negative comments; or your application for an incubator program or loan is rejected.

If you dwell on each rejection or critique, you'll get bogged down in bitterness. Rather, you need to remove emotion and your own pride from the situation. Think objectively about the criticism and see if there's anything to learn. Then, make the necessary changes and move on.

2. Get more sleep

Whether the magic number of nightly sleep is seven or eight, I know of few entrepreneurs who enjoy nearly that much sleep on a consistent basis. But we know that brains with too little sleep don't perform as well as those that do. That's why I'm going to make a concerted effort to improve my sleep habits this year.

Experts at the Mayo Clinic advise us to go to bed and get up at the same time every day to reinforce the body's sleep-wake cycle. If you have trouble falling asleep, don't force the issue. If you don't fall asleep within 15 minutes, get up and do something relaxing, like reading, light stretching, or eat a light snack.

All those smartphones and tablets in the bedroom emit a glow that can throw off the sleep cycle...not to mention the disruption when you decide to check your email at 2 am. That's why I'm making it a point to banish devices from my bedside at night.

3. Find time to exercise

When you're an entrepreneur, trips to the gym often take a back seat to last minute projects, client meetings, and tight deadlines. However, keeping a regular exercise routine is one of the most important things you can do for your health and wellbeing. The endorphins released from physical activity help relieve stress and keep your mood up when things get tough.

If you struggle to fit exercise into your entrepreneurial schedule, find a few friends or colleagues to join you for a regular bike ride, hike, or walk. Start a challenge board at the office to track activity, or pick up a device like Fitbit or Nike Fuel. If necessary, you can even exercise at your desk.

The most important thing you can do is to treat your workouts like any other work commitment. You're not going to break an appointment with a client, so don't break a commitment to yourself either.

4. Work smarter, not harder

In this modern era, we take too much pride in being busy. New entrepreneurs see busyness as a sign of success. However, the most successful entrepreneurs have built a business that allows them to eat dinner with their family, have fun on the weekends, and take a vacation every now and then. In short, good entrepreneurs know how to prioritize, surround themselves with smart people, and delegate.

Conduct a time audit to see how you spend your time during an average day or week. Are you focused on the tasks that matter and that will drive your business forward? What are the key areas that you should delegate to someone else?

If your business is a one-man or one-woman show, find an assistant to help you take care of the busy work or outsource more complex matters (like bookkeeping) to a specialist. If you already have employees, think about new ways to expand their responsibilities and expertise this year.

5. Be grateful

In the chaos of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, it is very easy to lose sight of what really matters. As a result, we get stressed and grumpy. I have found that when I take the time to consciously think about all the things I am thankful for, it gives me a new perspective and I am able to embrace all the craziness.

Some people keep a gratitude journal of all the people and events they are grateful for each day. Adopting some kind of gratitude practice (whether you write it down or not) will change your mindset from complaining and dwelling on the negative to focusing on solutions and best outcomes.

6. Seize the moment

Entrepreneurship is one of the most exciting and fulfilling journeys you can take, but you need to be present and stay in the moment to enjoy the ride. Step back every once in awhile to enjoy and appreciate what you are doing right now, rather than always looking to the next thing to make you happy.

What habits do you plan on adopting this year to be healthier and happier as an entrepreneur?

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A Different Kind Of New Years Message – NMPRO #1,158

Instead of beating yourself up over the things you didn’t do, let’s take a different approach. Happy New Year!

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The Last Round-Up for 2014: Shatner takes on Twitter and the history of native ads

william shatner It’s time for the final round-up of 2014. I started doing these a few months ago and I really enjoy them, so I hope you enjoy reading them and have discovered some stories you might have missed.

We’ll begin this session with a little news:

William Shatner broke the news that Twitter was doing something fishy with their Promoted Tweets. He noticed that his Following page now includes a “promoted” follow for MasterCard even though he doesn’t follow their account. At a glance, and if you’re the kind of person who looks at who other people follow, you might think Shatner is endorsing the brand. Twitter told Mashable this has been going on since 2013 and it’s no big deal. They say it’s just another form of advertising and is covered by their terms of service. Shatner doesn’t think so.

Yes? No? Hard to say who is right and who is wrong since we’re breaking new ground here.

Going mobile; Flurry tells us that 51% of the new device activations on Christmas Day came from Apple products. Samsung came in a distant second with only 17.7%.

And what did we do with all these new devices? We installed apps. 150% more than on an average day in December.

Finally, here are a couple of interesting reads if you have some time to spare over the next few days. Bookmark them on your new Apple device so you can read while you’re standing in line at Target to return that kitchen gadget you got from Aunt Sadie.

AdAge takes a look back at The Year in Native Ads.

The Wall Street Journal jumps into the native-ad game. The Journal’s push into native advertising might seem like an also-ran after the Times if it weren’t for the paper’s Editor-In-Chief Gerard Baker calling the practice a “Faustian pact” — that’s a deal with the devil — less than six months earlier.

SiriusDecisions wants you to know that No One Cares What You Have to Say About Yourself. Sounds harsh, but it’s really a piece about how B2B buyers prefer testimonials over self-serving copy.

PIQonomics Infographic I’ll wrap up with an interesting infographic from PlaceIQ that analyzes shopper behavior based on geographic location and where they like to shop.

That’s it for me and all of us here at Marketing Pilgrim. We hope you’ll have a safe and entertaining New Year’s Eve / Day and a prosperous new year.

We’ll see you back here in 2015.

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The Twitter 10 Commandments

Thou shalt not Tweet whilst buzzed

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New Year's Resolution: Update Your Exit Strategy

Even if your 2015 plans don't include the sale of your business, take some time to review your exit strategy on an annual basis. By doing so you will be ready for any unexpected circumstances that might necessitate a sale, and you could also uncover some new ways to boost your business value.

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6 Tech Trends That Will Help Small Biz in 2015

From smartwatches to the Internet of Things, many consumer technologies that will be on display at next week's Consumer Electronics Show can be useful tools for small business.

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The Marketing to Women Landscape for 2015: Trends, Challenges and Implications

In the past, I have written blogs predicting trends for the coming year. This year, I want to focus on one trend, that of big data, and address what it means when marketing to women.

When I discuss marketing to women, I find that most managers are well aware of the economic importance of women and recognize that women influence 85 percent of all household purchase decisions. I believe that 2015 will generate a renewed interest in marketing to women. This renewed interest will be driven by big data, which will draw managers back to demographics to explain consumer decision-making. In this post, I will address the big data phenomena before cautioning managers against overusing customer demographics (e.g., gender) to understand consumption.

Big Data

The Broader Issue: Organizations will continue to focus on big data. Eighty-five percent of large organizations are unable to exploit big data for a competitive advantage, even though 4.4m jobs will be/have been created around big data (Gartner). There are many consequences of this, for example: (1) managers need to develop an information-led strategy appropriate to their own organization; (2) significant resources will be devoted to IT, and those involved in IT will have a louder voice at the "strategy table"; and (3) managers need to be careful not to lose sight of overarching questions such as "How do I better understand customers and the customer experience so as to drive innovation and grow my organization?"

The Marketing to Women Issue: Many organizations have access to increasing amounts of customer data and can identify customers based on demographics such as gender, age and ethnicity. As a result, managers quickly compare their organization's customer demographic profiles to competitor profiles or census data and then make statements such as "we need to target more women." In so doing, managers often overlook the principles of market segmentation... and fail to fully recognize the changing face of today's women.

The Solution
: While big data will continue to capture the imagination of many, in addition to recalling the principles of market segmentation, managers must seek to understand the role of gender in explaining purchase decision-making for products and services marketed by their organization -- both differences between men and women and differences between women.

This is why I wrote my book "Why Marketing to Women Doesn't Work: Using Market Segmentation to Understand Customer Needs." I'm not saying that demographics aren't important but I am cautioning against the return to demographics as a primary driver of segmentation. One of the reasons I am careful is that demographics such as gender, age, or life stage are often only weakly correlated with consumption patterns, and purchase decision-making itself is complex in that it embraces many roles such as influencer, buyer, owner, and user.

How to Market to Women When Not All Women Are The Same

Below, I identify a number of recent trends to illustrate the changing face of today's women. I could have added many more data points but I do hope that the message is clear -- when your database identifies customers as women, are you also picking up additional data to demonstrate differences between women? What does marketing to women mean when women themselves are in a state of flux?

Recent Trends:

1. The social norm still exists that men should out earn women and they do -- women, on average, earn about ¾ of what men earn. But differences are starting to appear: single childless women aged 22-30 earn more than their male counterparts in most US cities, and 37% of married women earn more than their husbands.

2. Women out-learn men. More women than men now graduate with bachelors, masters and PhD.

3. The number of women who hold positions of leadership is growing. Women now comprise 15.8% of S&P 1500 boards and hold 5.4% of Fortune 1000 CEO positions.

4. Women, especially those who are college educated, get married and have children later.

5. Women head 30% of all households. Just over 1/3 of these households are family households comprising children aged 18 years or younger.

6. The number of stay at home moms rose to 29% in 2012.

Marketing to Women Implications:

1. Income disparity between women will continue. The number of breadwinner moms is on the rise, millennial women are near pay parity, yet more women are choosing to stay at home to raise their children,. In addition, the number of single women who head family households is also on the rise and these households have less income than other households (for example, single women family households make less than 50% of what a married couple family household makes).

2. As education and income levels continue to rise, and women hold more positions of leadership within organizations, women's influence over purchase decision-making will continue to grow. Women will demand more services to "make her life easier" (e.g., home help) and will seek more rest and relaxation (e.g., vacations, health and fitness). Women will continue to exert influence in categories that were once seen as the domain of men (e.g., cars, insurance, and alcohol) and will have a voice in categories that are still male dominant (e.g., motor sports).

3. Women will continue to juggle work and home responsibilities ... but so too will men. Not only do men want to spend more time with their children but also it often makes economic sense for them to do so.

4. Joint purchase decision-making will increase. Joint decision-making is often seen as important for items such as furniture and major appliances but is filtering down to household items such as food and cleaning products because of the blurring of gender roles.

Big data is a big deal and managers now have access to consumer insights and metrics that many of us never considered possible. Demographics are of course only one data type but are perhaps the easiest to collect and link to consumer behavior. In the context of marketing to women, just because a customer can be classified as a woman does not mean that the story is told - not all women are the same and the differences between women will only continue to become more exacerbated. The challenge for 2015 then is to look for differences between women and to understand how to market to women, many of whom take on a variety of different roles.

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5 reasons you should wait to go to business school


This article is part of DBA, a new series on Mashable about running a business that features insights from leaders in entrepreneurship, venture capital and management.

I graduated with my MBA when I was 32 years old. I had been out of school for eight years, working for a handful of companies in various software development, consulting and sales roles. I went back to school because I knew (almost) exactly what I wanted to do in the long run: Start my own company. I was confident going back to school was a step in the right direction.

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