I was incredibly saddened to learn earlier this week that Anita Roddick had passed away.
More than any other business executive, Anita Roddick has had the largest impact on me.
Not only in business but in life.
What Anita Roddick did was more than create a great global brand with The Body Shop.
Quite simply - Anita Roddick showed the world that commercial brands can have a conscious.
Anita Roddick demonstrated that the true power of being a business executive was not only to build shareholder value, but to leverage the power of the brand to try make a difference in the world.
Anita Roddick changed the definition of what a brand is and what it's place in the world should be. Her approach to business was certainly not loved by all. But to me, she is the reason - the inspiration - why anyone should start their own business today.
Piers Fawkes, who shares my admiration for Anita Roddick found a great excerpt from Roddick's last interview.
ET: What would you do if you were 30 years old now?
AR: I keep on thinking, well there’s a huge market, a huge section
of society we haven’t got a name for, and its my age group. We’re not
quite the age concern group - we’re the baby boomers - we keep on
You take a look at women in their 60s now and they don’t look like
women in their 60s that I remember, when I was 20 or 30. There’s a
whole market for that. The trouble is there’s no language around it.
The people who’ve got it best are the travel agencies, that use
travel as an education tool. I think the direct selling has got it
fantastically in terms of how you can approach a community of women
selling products. I think the fashion industry is up the bloody spout
in terms of our age group - you know, what have we got? Women in their
late 60s and 70s in this country - its not exciting. I think there’s a
market there. It’s been well-established in cooking shops, Lakelands is
brilliant, M&S is doing a terrific job.
But in terms of business, I think the most exciting thing that is
going on in this country right now are the social businesses - the
businesses that have a social purpose, and they are so creative, so
These are the ones that should be supported. They’re making a
product or a service that is beneficial to the community. I do a lot of
work with them in the British Library. I do a one to one. I do a day a
month - I choose people that apply to sit and talk to about their
marketing or their business.
They’re all established. One company that has electronic clocks…
Another woman is creative with green funerals. It’s thrilling - it’s
not just inspiring, it’s thrilling.
If you know who Anita Roddick is, but don't know much about her and what she did, here's two good places to start. Here and here.
In the most recent issue of The New Yorker, there's an absolutely wonderful article about wine forgery written by Patrick Radden Keefe.
While reading The Jefferson Bottles, How Could One Collector Find So Much Rare Wine?, I found myself having a similar experience to that of drinking an incredible bottle of fine wine - I was savoring every moment of it.
I won't post any excerpts here, as you can read the article online.
It's a fairly long article, so my suggestion is to print it out, open a nice bottle of wine, and read it as you sip.
Some things take a bit of time before they start to hit their stride.
When I first heard that Tyler Brûlé, the absolutely brilliant creator of Wallpaper Magazine and Winkreative, was launching a new culture and politics magazine called Monocle, my hope was that Brûlé would create an Economist magazine for a new generation.
But the first few issues of Monocle left me scratching my head, completely unsatisfied. I wanted to like Monocle, but with each and every issue I found myself reading less then 20% of it. It just wasn't working for me.
But then, just when I was about to give up on Monocle all together, on Friday I purchased the most recent issue, #6 (September 2007).
In a phrase, the new issue is absolutely brilliant and unlike the others, readable from cover to cover. The central theme of every article is "nation branding", and from this lens, Brûlé weaves a terrific tapestry of stories, opinions, and perspectives of how countries can be defined as brands.
Finally Brûlé has found a theme that suites his skills and the magazine well.
As a marketer, this should be a fairly easy question to answer.
But in today's changing marketplace, it's not.
For hundreds of years, something defined as "luxury" was something that was so well produced, so exclusive, and thus so expensive, that only the few - the elite - had access and the financial means to afford to buy it. Luxury was marketed to the rich as being a part of their social fabric, and to everyone else as being nothing more than an aspirational ideal.
But as Harry Hurt III notes in his "Off The Shelf" column in today's New York
Times, over the years the luxury category has moved from an industry once owned
by an exclusive group of family-owned fashion houses, to now a $157 billion
mass market business owned by large multinational corporations.
Along the way,
the democratization of "luxury" has lead to an erosion of what the word "luxury" truly represents in today's marketplace. As luxury brands diversify, what was perceived as luxury is no longer all that exclusive as it's now accessible to all.
Here's an interesting stat - As of last year, 40% of the Japanese population own at least one product made by Louis Vuitton.
Because of this, the Japanese account for over 40% of all luxury sales, more than Americans (17%) and Europeans (16%) combined.
Hurt's article has some extremely interesting observations about the change in how we perceive what is defined as luxury, taken from Newsweek writer Dana Thomas' new book, "Deluxe, How Luxury Lost Its Luster"
Hurt sums up the luxury dilemma by ending his article with the following observation:
"After all, what's the real luxury in being a "have" if hordes of logo-loving former have-nots can own the same products?"
Maybe all of this will lead to the creation of a new category of luxury.