…wherein we save you from awkward networking, bad coffee, and having to deal with the crowds in Times Square. In this edition, Forrester Research’s Consumer Forum, a two-day event at New York’s Marriott Marquis, which focused on customer-driven innovation and featured reps from Whirlpool, HP, Frog Design, and a whole host of Forrester analysts. I sat in on sessions with Target Vice Chairman Gerald Storch and Apple VP of worldwide product marketing for iPod Greg Joswiak. Here’s what you missed:
Target, thank god, won’t be installing self check-out kiosks in their stores anytime soon. “Our cashiers are simply faster,” Storch said. “And check-out kiosks are poor service.” Anyone who’s tried to get one of those annoying things at Home Depot to work quickly will breathe a sigh of relief.
Conference speeches, we all know, mean lots of business summaries and slides and stock answers to softball moderator questions. The audience reaction is often just as, if not more, interesting. The sigh from the woman behind me when she saw a slide of the new Nano was deafening in its envy, the crowd laughed in knowing frustration when Target said they weren’t adding kiosks, and, judging by the collective gasp in the audience at the sight of Wal-Mart’s Vogue fashion ads, no one had heard the news that the Bentonville giant is apparently mulling a purchase of Tommy Hilfiger. (Has any brand ever fallen farther?)
Best interactive marketing idea I missed: I must have been asleep at the wheel last Thanksgiving, because Target’s campaign to get people to sign up for a shopping wake-up call on the morning after Thanksgiving–in the voice of Heidi Klum, Darth Vadar, or Cheech–is truly brilliant.
Thank goodness for Josh Bernoff. Since Joswiak wouldn’t take questions from the audience (he apparently had only agreed to a one-on-one stage chat), it was up to Forrester digital media analyst Bernoff to ask direct questions. And he did, making Joswiak visibly uncomfortable when he asked about future products such as a video iPod and lessons learned from past Apple mistakes.
Storch’s comments about how Target uses its Web site to test out products before offering them in the stores was the most interesting take-away of the day. On its Web site, for example, it offered about a dozen colors and styles of rubber rain boots, while only four made it into the stores.
Apple’s Keynote software, which Joswiak used for his presentation, is cool. It puts Powerpoint to shame.
And finally, does everyone at Apple wear rimless glasses and dress in all black? Joswiak was a dead ringer for a full-head-of-hair version of Steve Jobs, clad in a black turtleneck and faded black jeans.