Author Archives: Olivia

From FMCG to SMCG – Slow Moving Creative Good

My Po-Zu shoes - slow, moving, creative, good

My Po-Zu shoes – slow, moving, creative, good

We live in a world dominated by FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) brands. It’s a fast-moving world. We are all consumers. And it’s all about the goods — the things we buy.

But there are signs of change. I believe that we are shifting to an SMCG world. One which is about Slow-Moving Creative Good. And seeing these signs of change as inter-related will help to consolidate and accelerate the shift.

Let’s take each of these elements in turn.

Slow — There is Slow Food,where we think about where the food comes from, and enjoy the process of how it is made, not just the consumption. There is Slow Fashion or Slow Style, the counter to Fast Fashion, clothes that are made to be worn again and again, and made in conditions that we do not need to be ashamed of, from raw materials that are recycled or produced in less environmentally-harmful ways. There is a general Slowing-Down, with more people turning to activities like meditation, yoga, walking and cycling as an antidote to the fastness of life around them.

MovingOriginally, I thought of this as part of Slow-Moving, and it works like that. But, whilst stirring some soup,it came to me that moving deserves to stand alone as well. It is about that which moves us, that which connects with us on an emotional level. It is the being in the present that enables us to be moved. I think that this was front of mind because of this morning reading Laurie Anderson’s obituary to her husband, Lou Reed. In it she writes of how he spent his last week “being happy and dazzled by the beauty and power and softness of nature”. It is about the movement that comes from inside when we are still, when we stop moving.

Towards an alternative modelCreative — We are not just consumers anymore. We create online all the time. Young people are using their creativity building apps. MakerFaires are pulling in the punters. We’re collaborating in our consumption. More people are growing their own vegetables and getting creative in the kitchen. We are the people formerly known as the audience. We are no longer an audience of consumers. We are creators, I firmly believe this innate in all us and needs to be expressed if we are to be fulfilled. And we want to be part of the brands that serve us. 

Good — It is not about the goods, the things that we buy. It is about the good that is generated and shared from what we do — whether it is the things we buy, the things we make, the love that we spread. It is a shift from physical goods to the network of good. My Po-Zu shoes shown in the picture above are an example of good, with every aspect of creation carefully thought through,from the coconut husk foot mattress to vegetable tanned leather, they are slow-made with love, and they encourage me to slow down and walk (Po-Zu means ‘pause’ in Japanese. Towards a new model, where we are not separate consumers.

I make some generalisations, and there is a long way to go until we are living a SMCG life. I know myself the journey that I need to go on. But the point is that the seeds are there, and growing. We have the research to show that more money does not make us happy once our basic needs are met. But qualities of slow, moving, creativity and good do.

What does this mean for you? What topics would you like me to see explore further within this, or who would like me to speak to? Do you think that there is more of a need to focus on what this means for brands, or for people, or both?

‘Welcome, we like you’ – the Icelandic tone of voice

Icelanders have a long history of telling stories. The Sagas of the Icelanders are widely seen as a forerunner of the modern European novel, written in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and telling the stories of farmers as well as warriors and kings.

Icelanders have storytelling in the blood – apparently one in ten will write a book during the course of their lifetime. On my recent trip to Iceland with Super/Collider, I didn’t experience Icelandic storytelling first hand, but I did get a strong sense of a distinctive Icelandic tone of voice.

ImageIt is a tone of voice which is direct, but playful in its directness. On the wing of the Wow Air plane, was the message “This is the west wing”. A little something to make you smile as you look out of the window.

ImageThe advertising on the headrests was not for the in-flight peanuts and gin and tonic. It was for the Icelandic clothing company, Cintamani. It read “Cintamani is your attitude that leads to courage, joy and passion on your way to happiness”, and signed off with the strapline “We know the feeling”. What a positive brand message and I really felt that they did know the feeling. That made me warm to them. Again, direct and straightforward in tone of voice.

ImageAnd then at the first hostel that we stayed at, the Bus Hostel, Reykavik – “Welcome, we like you”. There, on the walls. Starting from a positive. Of course, the employees need to live up to these words with matching friendliness (which they did), but these words must act for an inspiration and reminder for employees as much as a greeting to guests.

We were then out to the raw nature of Iceland so didn’t come across many more brand messages. But experiencing some of the force of the weather that Icelanders have to deal with – in the form of sandstorms and gale force winds that blew out car windows (fortunately not ours) – I began to get a sense of where such a tone of voice might come from. The farmer who owned the hostel where we took shelter in the midst of the gale was direct in his speaking – his words ran along the lines of  “you are safe, that’s the most important thing that matters, why are you worried about your car”, when we tried to ask if there was somewhere else to park it. Fair enough. When you truly are at the mercy of the elements whether wind or volcano, then I imagine that you learn to value what’s important.

This reminds me again of the Sagas. Ben Myers writes about the style of the Sagas:

“The style in which The Sagas are written is, like some of today’s best fiction, unpretentious and unadorned. Characters move from A to B to C (often by long-boat), and the narrators remain unemotional and impartial; people live and die without sentimentality or judgment. It is up to the reader to provide that.”

traffic lights

I was also reminded that tone of voice is not just what you say. In Selfoss, the green traffic lights have smiley faces – and the red ones do too.

Leaving Iceland, I was given a final parting line to take away at the airport:

“Without my imagination, I couldn’t go anywhere”.
Vigdis Grimsdottir, Z: A Love Story.

I think my imagination will take me back to the Icelandic landscapes.

Have you come across a tone of voice of a country that has struck you? Please share.