People Watching

The Ivory Tower knocking talk has kind of subsided.

The talk of understanding ‘real people’ and delving deep into their psyche has died almost as quickly as everyone joined the band wagon.

Maybe I am jumping the gun and all those who said they would speak to more people actually did that. They arose from their desks, swiftly closed their Macbook pro screens and ventured out of the office in a scene that wouldn’t look out of place in a apocalyptic zombie movie. Leaving the doors as they smelt the fresh, crisp smog filled air, whilst the number 2 bus splashes them with the stone eroding puddles.

Is it just me or am I envisioning a twenty something having a Truman Burbank moment when they find out people in Grimsby don’t spin…

But, I am sure some people out there are unconsciously people watching. Without knowing it they are experts. Storing all the trends and people nuances in their head. No hard data to back up their points except for their own experiences

This is what I have been doing.

Look at peoples shopping basket when you are in line. Let’s say it’s the third Thursday of the month — typically at least a few days if not a week till pay day. One women I observed, (probably 29 years old — give or take), had: 2 pouches of rice, eggs, bananas, chicken breast and milk. Maybe enough just to see you through till pay day.

Incredibly this same women was in front of me the week of pay day. The difference was: Chocolate Jaffa Cakes, 2 protein shakes, melon, grapes, eggs, Gu Chocolate Deserts, bottle of Malibu, red wine, make-up, some other confectionary and a boat load of toiletries. A stark contrast to the shopping basket of a week prior.

In my own home this is the case as well. My mum would have big dinners and a fully stocked fridge the first weekend of payday — even perhaps a roast dinner lined up. At the end of the month it would be larger dinners but with leftovers available for the next few days lunches. Any snacks that we enjoyed in the first week of the month will be forgone.

I call this people watching.

So there could be a hundred and one reasons why the previously observed female might have had a different basket than her next shop. Maybe I should do more research but it has been an observation of mine.

My dad recently sent a group text to my family about Michael Kors recent improvement in the stock market. So, I was curious. They haven’t really changed anything in the consumer market. Comms, strategy, sales and overall business is near on the same. But, stock price is up.

Now this to me is an indicator that there is something else going on. As a brand Michael Kors is lost. It’s not an aspirational company that can charge the luxurious prices and by having a lot of stock being bought by companies like T.K Maxx (T.J Maxx — USA) it drives the value of the brand down. The anchor of the price and what people are prepared to pay for the product falls. Making you no longer being a luxury brand. So I people watched again.

The people who I have observed, in London and around my travels (Kazakhstan included), not many MK wielding labels. Handbags there were a few dotted around that caught my eye but the handbag market is slowly declining. I am seeing more and more women using plush leather rucksacks instead — stats may say something else (probably do).

So here’s my two cents. Just be fascinated with people. Watch them. What do they wear? When do they buy things? How many parcel delivery trucks do you see each day?

We live in a people society. Understand them and you win.