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November 2013

Cropped 2011 head shotPre-Holidays 


November ushers in the holiday season with two notable observances: Veterans Day and Thanksgiving.


Both of these occasions have become important for retail and consumer product industries, but they have intrinsic meanings of their own. If you know a veteran, or if someone in your family served in the past, please find an opportunity to thank him or her; if they are no longer here to thank in person, think of a way to thank them.


As for Thanksgiving, the story we learned growing up, of the Pilgrims and the natives of Massachusetts may be questionable, but the spirit is worth remembering.


I hope both of these holidays are meaningful for you!


Marketing for peace


Rawabi--Arabic for "hills"--is a new planned city in the West Bank (Palestinian Authority or Israel, whichever political designation suits you). It is, as the name infers, high in the hills near Ramallah, and just 25 km from Jerusalem. On a clear day you can see Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean from its summit. Its founders and supporters say it is at the forefront of a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Others say it is a marketing ploy that seeks to enforce Western styles of housing and living on a tradition-bound culture; in other words, an exacerbation of the cultural conflict in the area.


Rawabi is the brain-child of Bashar Masri, a Nablus native who worked as a contractor and engineer in the United States for 25 years. He firmly believes that if he and his Qatari backers can develop a wholly Palestinian city, modern and ecologically designed, generating thousands of jobs for area residents, it will bring stability and ultimately peace. Arab critics contend that Masri is trying to replicate Western values and lifestyles in this Arabic area, and that he is a "tool" of the United States and Israel. You can guess what Israeli critics think of Rawabi, given its proximity to Jerusalem and some Israeli West Bank settlements.


It seems, however, that there are many middle class Palestinians who view this development as the fulfillment of a dream to live in a nice, clean city, replete with office space, an entertainment and sports complex, houses of worship (they are building an Eastern Rites church as well as a large mosque), and parks. The first section of 700 units is 90% sold, and expected to be ready for the first 6,000 residents by next March. When it is completed, Rawabi expects to have at least 25,000 inhabitants. Importantly, the involvement of at least 5 Arab-based banks, providing mortgages to those buyers who need them, is helping to fill these units. This is a major change in the way homes are financed in the Palestinian areas.


As I always believe, the key to success is marketing and communications. Rawabi has developed a pretty sophisticated public relations effort. Google the project, and you will see dozens of photographs and well-placed articles--and this is just the Western press--praising the city, its founder, and its goals. They are certainly targeting middle class and professional residents of the West Bank and Gaza (though it seems to be mostly the former). While Rawabi represents a paradigm shift for this populace in lifestyle and financing, there seems to be a desire for it among the target audience. That should certainly spell success. The danger is political, from the right wings of both Arab and Israeli communities. The former doesn't want to see anything that smacks of the West; and the latter doesn't want to see such a large Arab presence so close to Jerusalem.


I visited there recently and THEIR photographer was following our group around taking pictures. They seem to want Western support for this Western-style development, perhaps to put pressure on the Israeli government, or to build international support for a Palestinian State. Either way, there is historical precedent for economic development leading to peace. We can only hope that the concepts of peaceful, beautiful living spaces, with jobs, worship, and entertainment conveniently located, as Masri is promoting, will resonate with more and more Palestinian families, regardless of the political challenges. 

Old Folks Are Online, Too

The moving target of demographics   Older couple emailing    

Marketers tend to direct messages about consumer electronics and online purchasing to people under 30. While it is true that young people are the most likely to be early adopters of new technologies and new products, it is a mistake to write off folks over 50 when it comes to products like laptops and smart phones, and services like, e-Bay, and Expedia. 


In a recent survey conducted by Opinion 50+, an omnibus service of OpinionAmerica Group, 92% of people 50 to 64 years old have Internet access, as do 71% of those 65 to 85. Market sizes are about 60 million and 37 million people, respectively (2012); or nearly three out of ten Americans. While it is true that the major use of the Internet by this cohort is communications (emailing friends and family), plenty of folks in these age groups shop and look for financial and healthcare information online. Here are a few things to consider:

  • 70% of people 50-64 still work, as do 12% of those 65-85.
  • Nearly two out of three people 50 and over have Internet access at home (65%).
  • Almost half access the Internet at libraries (49%).  
  • 14% look for financial information online.
  • 10% look up healthcare information online.
  • 10% book travel online.
  • 7% buy and/or sell on e-Bay.
  • 15% do other kinds of shopping online.
  • 21% read the news electronically.
Keep in mind that age is always a moving target. Just as today's "50+"ers are quite different from their parents at similar ages, tomorrow's generation of folks 50 and over will be different from today's. I suspect that, moving forward, the differences will be in three areas:
  • The use of mobile devices for everything, including purchasing.
  • Working longer and older, especially as Social Security becomes less and less able to sustain a person's basic needs.
  • Comfort with an increasingly diverse population.

These differences will necessarily impact marketing and communications, so pay attention!!

Upcoming Events
November 20th, 8am-10am


Regardless of your business you must be prepared for the unexpected--sometimes known as the "Black Swan." IABC/LI presents "Five Critical Communications Tips to Tame A Black Swan," featuring Katherine Heaviside of Epoch 5 Public Relations and Art Samansky, of The Samansky GroupThis event will be held at Sterling National Bank Atrium (Lower Level) 290 Broadhollow Road, Melville, NY. Click here for more details and to register.
November 18th, 6-8pm
Women In Communications holds its next "NYWICI Night Out" at Darbar Grill, 157 E. 55th St. in New York. No agendas or speakers, just pure networking. Click here for more information and registration. They also have a Twitter Chat Series: Women in Tech on November 19th, 8-9pm. Go to #nywicichat @nywici at the appropriate date and time. 
November 14th, 6-8pm
The NY American Marketing Association, hosts "How Great Brands Motivate Their Customer Experiences," with speakers from Google, Uniglo, Warby Parker and Kiehl's. You can visit this web site for more information and to register.

This practice is dedicated to helping companies become knowledge-driven, rather than assumption driven about strategic and tactical decisions concerning lines of business, branding, communications, and various marketing activities. For more information about how we do this, case studies, frequently asked questions about marketing research, and testimonials, please visit our web site:
Ann Middleman