Monday, April 27, 2009

Chinese Consumer - Market Dynamics in Retail

Good friend and colleague who is a global leader in retail innovation, Mr. Tony Tsai, Chief Executive Officer – BHG Retail Innovation Institute & Executive VP Operations – The BJ Hualian Hypermarket Co. forwards an excellent article from Nielsen called "Changing Market Dynamics in China's Retail Industry".

The article states of the consumer product goods while touching on the fast moving consumer goods:

"The government’s retail statistics show a slowdown in retail sales over the last six months from 22 percent growth year on year in Quarter 3 to 19 percent in December and 15 percent in February. This slowdown is certainly reflected in FMCG as well. When looking through Nielsen data, specifically in the Modern Trade channel, there is a significant slowing from a 13 percent growth in Q4 2008 to two percent in Jan/Feb 09."

Mr. Tsai and I had discussed, interestingly sitting in Dubai a few years back while we were conducting an analysis of Gulf retail markets, how retail growth in emerging regions like Gulf begins with super market arena in tier 1 cities is followed by hyper and mini growth. What I was curious about was what happens with tier 2 and then tier 3, where the consumer desires for the experience of the tier 1 cities and the super markets? Inevitably it is consumer economics driven. As tier 1 cities grow larger and harder to navigate, hyper and mini marts start to provide the essentials of daily consumption while the weekend trips are reserved to the super "stores".

In case of China, Mr. Tsai had shared about 6 months ago that the workers who do not have work in the cities are returning to the tier 2 and tier 3 cities and towns. The Nielsen reports the results of this:

"Lower tier cities, where the spend on food and beverages represent roughly 40 percent of household expenditure, are achieving double digit growth, however the growth is potentially being fueled by the fact that more workers are staying in their hometowns as less job opportunities exist due to factory closures in South China. Another factor could also be that consumers are moving from villages to the towns to do their shopping as well as downgrading to lower priced products."

Also, Mr. Tsai back then highlighted that fluctuations in economics of a rapidly growing region like Gulf will impact consumer behavior, such as brand switching. I felt that bargain hunting may start to play a role in the consumers decisions

The nielsen report validates these predictions for the rapidly growing region like China impacted with economic woes:

"Consumers are changing their purchasing behavior ... with the significant increase in promotional activity, are being ‘trained’ to buy more on promotion. This highlights the importance of price right now with 85 percent of Modern Trade shoppers paying more attention to price promotions."

China Update

Few selected reports from China:

"China's shopping team to sign over 30 deals in the US - a delegation sent by the Ministry of Commerce arrives in the US to explore trade and investment opportunities. The delegation will visit Washington, Chicago and San Francisco on a 10-day trip. The delegation is expected to sign more than 30 deals with American companies."

"China still struggling with over-capacity in some regions - the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology holds a press conference. According to the press conference, China's industrial output grew 5.1% year-on-year in the first quarter of the year. March alone saw a rise of 8.3%. Zhu Hongren, director of the Performance Inspection and Coordination Bureau under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), says China is still struggling with over-capacity in some regions. In the first quarter, 15 provinces and municipalities posted industrial growth of over 10%. Industrial growth in Central and West China is faster than in East China."

"China bans import of poultry from Kentucky, US - the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) says on its official website that China has suspended all imports of poultry and poultry products from Kentucky, the US after an outbreak of the bird flu was reported at a chicken farm in Kentucky. "

Computer Vision in Consumer Space Grows

The thrust in the computer vision sector has grown to the point that the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) has launched a new conference Interactive Multimedia for Consumer Electronics, to take place on October 19th, 2009 in Beijing (details here).  Of interest will be papers and workshops on presence and environment sensing, face and hand detection, recognition and tracking, facial expression and emotion / mood recognition, and gesture and activity recognition.

Machines Providing Real-Time Consumer Insights

"...Unilever, an Anglo-Dutch consumer-goods giant, is using expression-analysis software to pinpoint how testers react to foods. Procter & Gamble, an American competitor, is using similar technology to decipher the expressions of focus groups viewing its advertisements."

States the article "Machines that can see" here in The Economist.  Similarly, the ability of sensors driven understanding of environments can enable in-context communication with a perspective consumer.  Further, remembering the consumer and the context allows for touching them in a non-disruptive fashion where the flow of information or marketing is "continued".  For example, as the article states:

"Digital billboards—the large TV screens that display advertisements in public places—already take into account the weather (touting cold drinks when it is hot) and the time of day (promoting wine in the evening). NICTA, a media laboratory funded by the Australian government, has gone a stage further. It has developed a digital sign called TABANAR, which sports an integrated camera. When a passer-by approaches, software determines his sex, approximate age and hair growth. Shoppers can then be enticed with highly targeted advertisements: action figures for little boys, for example, or razors for beardless men. If the person begins to turn away, TABANAR launches a different ad, perhaps with dramatic music. If he comes back later, TABANAR can show yet another advertisement. “You tend to go: ‘Wow, thanks, how did you know I needed that?’,” says Rob Fitzpatrick of NICTA."

At P&G, I led an effort in kiosks that enabled a perspective consumer to conduct virtual beauty care at the shelf for beauty care products.  Such services have existed in South Korea in specific but they may be going main stream across the world in other CPG categories:

"Computer vision has even advanced to the point that it can perform internet searches with an image, rather than key words, as a search term. Later this year Accenture, a consulting firm, will launch a free service, called Accenture Mobile Object-Recognition Platform (AMORP), that will enable people to use images sent from mobile phones to look things up on the web. After sending an image of, say, a Chinese delicacy, a curious foodie might receive information gleaned from, for example. Fredrik Linaker, head of the AMORP project at Accenture’s research centre in Sofia Antipolis, France, likens the project to “physical-world hyperlinking”."

The use of computer vision based applications beyond consumer centric opportunities are tremendous as well.  The article discusses the applicability and examples of use in intelligence and safety sector also.

Crowds - Wise?

A good article on The Economist looks at simulating crowds here. It discusses how computational models of crowds is starting to enable more realistic behavior of humans. As an example, the article discusses the behavior of people during a fire blaze.

"The trouble is that the software that is used to do this generally treats people like particles in a fluid, says Mr Wittasek. “It assumes people behave like water flowing through a pipe,” he says. “They move at constant flow rates, heading for the nearest exits. But that’s not realistic.” Human behaviour is in fact far more complex and often quite irrational. When fleeing a fire people will often try to retrace their steps and leave the building by the way they came in, rather than heading for the nearest exit—even if it is much closer."

The article discusses the learning from the film "The Lord of the Rings" - where massive crowds of waring orcs were simulated with each individual orc having an independent brain to make decisions from a predefined set.

Of course, the article has a section labeled "The wisdom of the crowds"! Interestingly the article talks about crowds of humans and animals with examples.

Consumer Insight: Middle East - Beauty and Health

New technological entrees into emerging markets always provide an insight into what the consumer is asking or aspiring for.  Beauty (health, skin, etc.) is a consumer product goods category that grows as the consumers become more affluent in a region.

A related example here "Middle East Launch of Revolutionary Cold Laser Technique For Body Shaping" is a solution that was either very exclusive in the region or one had to travel to receive.  The article states:

"Dr. Douglas Dedo of the Palm Beach Institute of Cosmetic Surgery and past President of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery added: “This revolutionary treatment can work without any kind of surgery or the need for excessive dieting or exercise; though as a doctor I always recommend a healthy lifestyle for my patients. What is also exciting is that clinical studies have revealed that ZERONA™ can help in the treatment of acute and chronic pain relief as well as in controlling cholesterol and triglycerides.” "

Friday, April 24, 2009

Robotics in Commercial and Consumer Space

Friend Ms. Jessica Banks passes along a video on Festo's latest robotic technologies showing how they may connect into the commercial and consumer markets. See details on the company Festo here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

TiE - The Indus Entrepreneurs and TiECON 2009

The Economist recently cited in the article "Global Heroes" here, The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) as one of the premier entrepreneurial organizations in the world.

I am proud to say that I am a charter member of the organization. TiE (see global website here) is a non-profit organization with the mission to - "... to foster Conscious Entrepreneurship Globally by Educating, Mentoring and Networking."

The above article states:

"TiE was founded in Silicon Valley in 1992 by a group of Indian transplants who wanted to promote entrepreneurship through mentoring, networking and education. Today the network has 12,000 members and operates in 53 cities in 12 countries, but it continues to be anchored in the Valley."

TiE is hosting the world's leading entrepreneurial conference in Silicon Valley on May 15th and 16th, 2009. See details here.

I recommend the TiECON 2009 conference and the TiE organization to all entrepreneurs, successful and budding alike.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Biofuels - Did the Consumer Know or Ask?

One of marketing's various roles is to enable the target consumer to be educated about what the product or service provides and why it will help alleviate their pain. Similarly, marketing is a tool to create perceptions that at times are contentious. Biofuels is an interesting sector where new data and numbers will require either consumer education or perception building on the part of manufacturers and retailers to clarify information that is "contentious". This is going to be an interesting sector to watch that has delivered consumer innovation to alleviate the pain, or has it? You be the judge.

"[International Council for Science] ... supports some controversial findings published in 2007 by Paul Crutzen of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany. Dr Crutzen concluded that most analyses had underestimated the importance to global warming of a gas called nitrous oxide (N2O) by a factor of between three and five. The amount of this gas released by farming biofuel crops such as maize and rape probably negates by itself any advantage offered by reduced emissions of CO2."

States the article in the Economist article "Biofools" here. Currently, on average up to 10% Ethanol produced from corn is included in petrol sold in the USA. A few statistics on Ethanol that are helpful in alleviating misconceptions in an article at the CATO Institute "Ethanol Makes Gasoline, Costlier, Dirtier" here.

Yet, as published on the Wall Street Journal Blogs "E-corn-omics: Ethanol vs. Gasoline vs. Food" here:

"... for now the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) is leaning toward ethanol’s corner. Based on research from the Argonne National Laboratory, the CBO says U.S. corn ethanol, as currently produced, amounts to a 20% reduction in lifecycle greenhouse-gas emissions compared with gasoline."

The above data and political decisions may be in contention but the true impact of producing biofuels brings the issue closer to home when one considers its water consumption, see an excellent article in the Economist "Sin Aqua Non" here. It states:

"... climate change has persuaded western governments to subsidise biofuels, which could prove as big a disaster for water as they already have been for food. At the moment, about 2% of irrigated water is used to grow crops for energy, or 44km3. But if all the national plans and policies to increase biofuels were to be implemented, reckons the UN, they would require an extra 180km3 of water."

Does the intelligent "community" of consumers of energy know the depth of impact caused by biofuels? Or do the "crowds" of consumers hurl and herd themselves at what some said should be done? See my discussions on debunking the myth of wisdom of the crowds among these blogs.

China and Singapore Plan "Knowledge City"

Following the "Suzhou Industrial Park", "Tianjin Eco-City", the third large-scale cooperation project between China and Singapore - "Knowledge City" has been settled in the north district of Science Town in the Guangzhou Development Zone. Both sides have reached an agreement on the location of the project and will jointly carry out the project's feasibility study from April to Aug. The construction of the project is expected to begin in early 2010.

China: Tax Management

From my friend and colleague Mr. Tony Tsai, Chief Executive Officer – BHG Retail Innovation Institute & Executive VP Operations – The BJ Hualian Hypermarket Co.:

On reduction of taxes to stimulate various sectors:

"An official at the State Administration of Taxation says that the State Administration of Taxation will issue a new tax policy to promote development of venture capital enterprises. The Chinese government will offer preferential tax treatment to venture capital enterprises in corporate income tax."

"The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) holds a symposium for the development situation of China's IT industry in Hefei, the capital of Anhui province. Representatives from the Shanghai Municipal Development and Reform Commission suggest that the central government reduce value-added tax and business tax for the IT industry. Representatives from the Jiangsu Provincial Development and Reform Commission suggest the central government issue detailed rules on the implementation of a stimulus plan for the IT industry as quickly as possible."

"Coface, the leading international credit insurance and credit management services group, recently published the results of the survey of corporate credit risk management among Chinese enterprises for 2008. The survey shows that the financial crisis has led to a marked deterioration in payment behavior by buyers interested in China. More than 90% of respondents have revealed problems with overdue payments. In 2008, there was a trend towards longer payment delays. The survey shows that more than half of the respondents regard financial difficulties as the main reason for nonpayment, while poor or inexperienced management is the second contributing factor for 25% of them."

"According to yesterday's media reports, the National Copyright Administration will collect a music copyright fee of RMB2.5 per minute from TV stations, and RMB0.3 per minute from radio stations. An official from the National Copyright Administration says today (April 15) that the music copyright fees for TV or radio stations have not yet been set."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rebranding Zhongnanhai

By way of Mr. Tony Tsai, Chief Executive Officer – BHG Retail Innovation Institute & Executive VP Operations – The BJ Hualian Hypermarket Co. from China:

"Experts ask to discontinue use of Zhongnanhai as a cigarette brand; it may mislead consumers ThinkTank Research Center for Health Development will submit a petition to the Trademark Appraisal Committee under the State Administration of Industry and Commerce asking it to discontinue the use of "Zhongnanhai [pinyin]" - the name of the central leadership compound - as a cigarette brand. Using the sacred place's name as that of a cigarette brand is misleading to consumers. Buyers feel the cigarette brand is acknowledged by the central government and see it as a symbol of high quality and authority. Some legal experts believe using Zhongnanhai as a brand violates the Trademark Law. According to Article 10 of the Trademark Law, names of a central government office location cannot be used as brands."

What Are People Looking For?

Via Mr. Martin Ertl, CIO - Bombardier Transportation, from Digg Labs, the Swarm on Digg here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Consumer Spending Vs. Savings in the USA

In The McKinsey Quarterly, "The economic impact of increased US savings" here. Here are a few quantitative insights based on the fact that household incomes have not been growing and in some cased globally have been decreased, a recent example being renegotiation of contracts at automakers in Germany.

"...holding incomes constant, each percentage point increase in the savings rate translates into roughly $100 billion less in consumer spending¬. A 5 percent savings rate would mean $530 billion less in spending each year if US incomes fail to rise; if they rose by 2 percent a year, a 2.3 percent savings rate would mean $250 billion less spending, all else being equal."

The conclusion:

"But without significant income gains, deleveraging could undermine consumption and the global economy for years to come."

Robert Shiller on the Current Economics

Excellent conversation with Robert Shiller at The McKinsey Quarterly "Surveying the economic horizon: A conversation with Robert Shiller" here. The quarterly's email states, "Robert Shiller, a professor at Yale University and cocreator of the Case–Shiller Home Price Index, discusses four aspects of the current crisis: regulating for financial innovation, reducing trust in models, redesigning institutions, and the time line for turnaround. His perspectives are informed in part through his research that psychology—particularly an understanding of human irrationality—can play a key role in explaining economic breakdowns and exploring effective solutions."

On innovation, Robert Schiller states:

"I don’t want to see us killing off innovation, and this is what may get lost—and I hope it doesn’t get lost—in the current crisis. Ultimately, let’s not forget that we’ve learned lessons that a capitalist economy is an economy that promotes entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurship is not the province for government bureaucrats."

On the possibility of an economic turn around:

"I don’t want to say that I don’t think there will be a turnaround soon, but I think that many of us are too much expecting that it might come tomorrow or the day after. And this volatility is evidence of that. So I think it is quite possible that the stock market and the housing market, five years from now, will be close to where they are now."

Asian Airlines Delight Thier Customers

16.2 million travellers from about 100 countries took part in Skytrax's annual survey - Skytrax specializes in airline and airport research. The top 10 airlines are all Asian airlines, see details here.

The Economist writes in an article "Asian Tigers" here:

"Lining up behind the Hong Kong carrier were, in order, Singapore Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Qatar Airways, Emirates, Qantas, Etihad Airways, Air New Zealand, Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways. Interestingly/strangely enough, the exact same airlines made up last year's top ten, albeit in a slightly different order."

I am an international traveler, yet I will reserve my comments regarding my personal experiences and share the comments of a customer of the airline industry:

"Yesterday at the airport in Hong Kong, I was waiting to get on an AA/Cathay flight back to the USA, and my heart sank when I realized it was an American 777 as opposed to the Cathay plane."

Monday, April 6, 2009

China - Alcoholic Beverage Consumption

I have recently performed a bit of business advisory work in the alcoholic beverage sector. One of my recommendations focused on the emerging markets for this USA based company. One of the reports I read provided very good insights on the decline in the Western markets versus the growth in Asia-Pacific, and in specific China. The report here highlights that:

"The global market for alcoholic drinks was worth US$979bn in 2007, equivalent to 1,460bn servings. Although sales of alcoholic drinks are typically relatively immune from recessions, although the current economic downturn has coincided with a period of higher inflation and rising prices which have dampened demand for alcoholic drinks. However, the downturn itself is likely to have a positive effect on demand. In developed markets consumers will spend more time socializing and drinking at home. In emerging markets consumers will buy fewer consumer durables and spend part of the savings on everyday treats such as beer, wine and spirits."

A few of the key findings of the report are:

"The volume of alcoholic drinks consumed in western Europe is forecast to decline over the period 2007-2012 by an average of 0.2% per annum. Between 2007 and 2012 the annual sales of spirits globally is forecast to increase by over 1bn liters. 70% of this increase will take place in Asia-Pacific markets. China is the largest beer market in the world, having overtaken the US in recent years. This growth is being driven by a growing middle class that has increasingly Western tastes plus a shift away from traditional spirits consumption. Globally, there will be an additional 18.7bn liters of beer/cider/FABs sold in 2012 compared to 2007. 62% of this increase will take place in Asia-Pacific and 29% will be in Eastern Europe. Less than 8% of this growth will be in North America and these regional rises will be a result of the decline in the Western European market."

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The World Bank - "Doing Business"

I was prompted to dig deeper into "Doing Business" here, an effort under the World Bank. Ratings on 181 countries showing rankings such as "Ease of doing business", "Dealing with construction permits", "Protecting investors", "Paying taxes", etc. See the complete list here.

The Economist quotes Robert Litan, of the Kauffman Foundation, "... the World Bank may have done more good by compiling "Doing Business" than by lending much of the money that it has."

The Time has Arrived for Entrepreneurism

A very good article from the Economist - "A special report on entrepreneurship: An idea whose time has come" here. The report connects entrepreneurship and economics:

"Today entrepreneurship is very much part of economics. Economists have realised that, in a knowledge-based economy, entrepreneurs play a central role in creating new companies, commercialising new ideas and, just as importantly, engaging in sustained experiments in what works and what does not. William Baumol has put entrepreneurs at the centre of his theory of growth. Paul Romer, of Stanford University, argues that “economic growth occurs whenever people take resources and rearrange them in ways that are more valuable…[It] springs from better recipes, not just more cooking.” Edmund Phelps, a Nobel prize-winner, argues that attitudes to entrepreneurship have a big impact on economic growth."

The report believes that entrepreneurship going mainstream also lies in "... that the social contract between big companies and their employees has been broken."

The report discusses a fantastic effort by the World Bank:

"In 2003 the World Bank began to publish an annual report called Doing Business, rating countries for their business-friendliness by measuring things like business regulations, property rights and access to credit. It demonstrated with a wealth of data that economic prosperity is closely correlated with a pro-business environment. This might sound obvious. But Doing Business did two things that were not quite so obvious: it put precise numbers on things that people had known about only vaguely, and it allowed citizens and investors to compare their country with 180 others."

Open Innovation Driven Solutions for the Poor

Interesting article by Ms. Tara Acharya of the Rockefeller Foundation "Users can drive creative innovation for the poor" here. The author believes that Open Innovation can help deliver to the poor of the world that is either not developed for them or if provided, does not deliver the service required. The article states:

"Innovation guru Eric von Hippel of the US-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology says users are motivated to develop and modify products and services "because they can't get from the manufacturers exactly what they want". "

As I have stated before, I believe satiated people do not innovate. Open Innovation may truly find the breakthrough it promises through consumer innovation or User Driven Innovation (UDI) in the poor of the developing countries - because the desperate need for survival and a desire for a better life lies with them. The article gives an example:

"The Rural Innovations Network, based in India, takes another approach to UDI. It identifies, incubates and distributes grassroots technological innovations that can have a significant impact on rural lives. For example, it helped an innovator develop a novel energy-efficient burner for kerosene stoves that is cheaper, longer-lasting, safer and easier to maintain than conventional burners — making it appealing to the rural consumer. The Rural Innovations Network provided the innovator with critical market research and marketing services."

Boeing Receives $17b Order From India

Mr. Bob Evans' blog on InformationWeek "Boeing Lands $17B Outsourcing Deal From India" here. It states:

"This $17 billion deal placed by Indian airlines pushes to $25 billion the total value of orders they have awarded to Boeing in the past three years. On top of that, Boeing said a much larger 20-year commitment from Indian airlines for 1,000 aircraft valued at $105 billion is still valid, according to the president of Boeing India, Dinesh Keskar."

The blog concludes with Mr. Evans views on protectionism.

Technological Innovation in BRIC Economies

Good article focusing on an evaluation of knowledge driven innovation in the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries here. Interesting to note are comparisons with developed countries and with VISTA (Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Turkey, and Argentina) countries.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Cisco to make SmartPhones

Since I published my blog on Cisco being the 21st century eCPG leader here, I have been provided with some insightful links on Cisco's further plans in the eCPG sector.

In an article "Are Smartphones on Cisco's Wish List?" here on Chinese website C114, analyst Mark Sue of RBC Capital Markets is stated as declaring:

"Considering its big push into the consumer market, we believe Cisco may be developing a smartphone of its own, slated for mid-2010."

To further the claim, the article cites:

"On Mar. 31, Cisco was awarded a patent for managing time delays in relaying video wirelessly to consumer electronics devices. The same day, it received a patent for a network-connected phone able to stream video. Many of Cisco's recently filed patents mention a personal digital assistant as a device that could potentially use the innovations described."

The article also provides good insights on the USA's broadband capabilities reaching a point where tele-presence will start to become a retail service along with cable TV, etc.

I look forward to the consumer digital services and values generated through competition.

eCPG (electronic consumer product goods) in China 2008-2009 report

I had an opportunity to review the report "2008-2009 Annual Report on the Development of China's Consumer Electronics Industry" here. Continues to validate the direction for the global consumer spending as I discussed in my blog on Cisco here. I cannot document anything from the report as it is copyrighted and can be purchased from the above link.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

21st Century eCPG (electronic consumer products goods) Leader - Cisco?

The appetite of the 21st century consumer when it comes to electronic or digital products is an area that continues to see expenditure versus other sectors. In the digital world all bits flow to the routers, just like all water flows to the oceans. Cisco is starting to own all the digital waterways with it's over 130 acquisitions in the last few years. The recent acquisition of Flip has me wondering if Cisco will be the P&G of the electronic consumer product goods of the 21st century?

If nothing else, I declare that the new term eCPG requires application to Cisco. Question is if growth through M&A activity or acquisitions can be considered consumer innovation?

Curious as to where is Intel?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April 1st Launch of The Economist's New Theme Park

A look at the current econo-state of the world at "New Magical Monetary World of Econoland" - explore the clickable map of the theme park here. A few details on Econoland:

"The currency high-roller: Float like a butterfly with the euro and drop like a stone with the pound!"

"Fiscal fantasyland: Watch the economy shrivel before your very eyes as you struggle to stop growth falling!"

"The Severe Contest: Try your strength against a bear market!

And further details from the spokesman in the article:

"“Econoland will appeal to the kid in everyone”, said a spokesman for The Economist Group, “although children themselves will not be admitted”. The park will open on April 1st."

Social Media Trend Alert

Gulliver of the Economist provides insights for the world travelers. In a recent article "Trusting the people" here, he states the following regarding online sites providing reviews of travel services:

"...the small storm stirred up by the news that Royal Caribbean cruises had contacted people who had repeatedly put up positive reviews about them—mainly on the CruiseCritic site (owned by Tripadvisor)—and offered them rewards in return for more positive online coverage."

Gulliver concludes:

"As a result Gulliver finds himself increasingly drifting away from such sites in favour of single-source guides, such as Alastair Sawday or Mr and Mrs Smith. It's not that the accumulated wisdom of online reviewers is to be sniffed at; more that the crowd's objectivity is not always guaranteed."

I believe this is the new social media trend that has been prevelant and now going mainstream.

For further reading, please see my blogs, "Debunking "Wisdom of Crowds" Myth - Two Examples" here, "Crowds, Their Self Management - Empirical Data" here and "Mind-Meshes" here.

Reckitt-Benckiser Invests in Web Advertising

Colleague Franz Dill writes about the shift in advertising spending at Reckitt-Benckiser here. Web ads will receive $20m of an estimated $475m where 90% usually goes to TV media.