I got my Sears Tool catalog today. Next to the artful cover rendering of the "Right Angle Impact Driver" are three prominent icons. The familiar Facebook and Twitter (mildly jarring at Sears, no?). And above those, a mysterious round blue icon with the words "Reality Checked" next to it. Hmmm....I open the catalog and find this layout:
The Real People, whose photos are sprinkled on every page of the thick catalog, range from "Norb, traveling handyman" to Tina, "NHRA dragster driver." Sears is faster than I would have expected at recognizing the reality of 2010. They are conceding that the definition of an influential expert has been completely upended. Not that long ago, in a now-outdated era of traditional media, people who could simply garner more audience were deemed "experts." Think of pediatrician/author T. Berry Brazelton. Consumer activist Ralph Nader. Finance advisor Suze Orman.
Not so today. Today we recognize the truth we always lived in our "real lives." What we experience in our homes, families, and neighborhoods. Namely, that you get to be an expert by really doing something, not just by talking about it. And social media and video make that basic truth as plain as day. Moms want real-time advice from other moms. We like getting financial advice from our peers on Mint.com, not from an over caffeinated talking head. And, Ralph was a real marvel, but we can each be an influential consumer activist tomorrow, if we want to spend our energies in that direction.
We've been very careful at Daily Grommet to build an experience that is open to a wide range of experts. Our team takes a holistic approach to evaluating a potential Grommet, but we don't pretend to be Underwriter Laboratory, or Dr. Oz. We love to call in experts to help us explore and accurately articulate a story. Bloggers, practitioners, editors, people in the right demographic, sports pros, chefs. You get the picture. That approach is not only contemporary, but it is very scalable and not subject to the vulnerabilities of tying Daily Grommet to a single name or face. (That's why I bristle at the slightest comparison to Martha Stewart. It's not about her, particularly. It's about Martha creating a successful business for a very different era. Grommet is for today.)
I do find women embrace this approach naturally. Women just encountering Daily Grommet never ask me the question that many men pose, "How can your team be good at so many categories?" Women, being in control of 80% of the consumer spend, know what it is like to be skilled at assessing products in a wide variety of categories because it is an important financial skill for them. They don't want to be hoodwinked. It can be different for many men. Their consumer life is often focussed on a narrower range of categories, where they enjoy diving deep and looking for expert advice. Women rarely have so much time for an individual purchase, and they actively maintain a natural "board of experts" with their on and offline friendships, service providers, and their trusted retail sources, where appropriate.
For both men and women, Daily Grommet becomes a natural extension of both of these thoughtful consumer approaches. Everyone is busy, everyone appreciates a trusted source and a group of people who do all the work. And they all recognize that "real people" are the go-to source in today's level playing field of social and rich media.