The unusual suspects: Smartphones, are we smart enough with consumers?

Indonesia is the e-Walhalla


It is hard to imagine that it’s only 10 years ago Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, the first real smartphone. The whole world in the pocket of our jeans or purse. Especially in Indonesia seems to love the smart phone. The country has more than 100M internet users, it’s projected to become the fourth-largest internet market (based on number of users) by 2020,1 and smartphone penetration has more than tripled—from 14% to 43%—between 2013 and 2016.2

With US$ 1.93 per month for “unlimited plan”, Indonesia has one of the cheapest Internet packages alongside the United Kingdom. Furthermore, mobile phone offering in Indonesia is getting much cheaper and varied than before. Needless to say that the ‘mobile’ in Indonesia is the ‘Walhalla for (e-)marketers of all kinds.

Along with influencing consideration, smartphones have changed the way Indonesians actually make purchases—59% of consumers make online purchases weekly and 39% do so at least monthly, while only 2% say they’ve never made a purchase online1. eMarketer estimates that retail ecommerce sales in Indonesia will reach $3.22 billion this year.

Search intent is more important than demographics

When Indonesians are ready to shop, what they want matters much more than who they are. A report of Google/TNS, “Connected Consumer Study looked at a few key elements—smartphone usage, frequency of weekly online shopping, and YouTube usage—and found very little variation in online behaviors across age and gender demographics2.

That’s a great opportunity, especially targeting the older generation, who have sufficient money and time on their hands and are good for business. It is essential that brands and retailers move quickly to ensure that their own mobile presence and marketing efforts align with the current and future habits of this target market.

Old people

But there’s a catch. Penetration amongst seniors is low. Main reason? They are less comfortable using the full range of features that smartphone provides.

Smartphones are too smart.

Smartphones and apps are mainly made with young people and tech savvy people in mind and as they’re already using them, it’s easy to adapt and learn along the way. They are ‘applitterate’ and get more savvy every time they buy a new phone, install a new app or use the ones they have. Over time, the ‘savvy gap’ between young and old is getting bigger and bigger.

Research confirms this; it turns out Ease of use (70%) is the growing and main criterion choosing a smartphone for older people. For them smartphones are too smart and they don’t want to look stupid. It is way more important then price (which is second).

Probably smart not to buy a smartphone

GraphOlder generations are used to the experiences of the ‘old’ days, where technology was minimal and they learned it by doing.

With that mindset, older people perceive smartphones as intimidating. They have no idea how to use this new technology and what value it adds to their lives and as result and have become frustrated, angry and discouraged. Let’s face it, would you pay money for something you do not know how to use, with what purpose?

But then again, there’s lots of things senior people could do, or would do, or like to do, when they know how. Looking at the top mobile activities, it is pretty normal people stuff we do and did back in the old days. It’s the smartphone that’s the barrier.

The 81 year old app developer

The story of Mazako Wakamiya  an interesting example. She’s an 81 years’ old woman and used to be a banker. She recently launched her first smartphone app, which took her half a year to develop. Her reason is simply. She felt compelled to do something after noticing a shortage of fun apps aimed at people her age.

MazakoMazako Wakamiya snd her app Hinadan

She asked a number of people to create games for seniors, but no one seemed to be interested. So she took matters into her own hands and created a game called Hinadan. She achieved something many people half her age have not done. The game by the way is a success in Japan and getting a 5 out of 5 rating.

Work harder (and smarter)

If we believe seniors are an interesting target group, we have to get them to buy and use a smartphone. It is a different kind of role marketers (no not smartphone producers) and agencies need to play, but when played well, it’s very inspiring and can be very successful. The only catch is: We won’t sell our products directly to them, we have to follow the indirect route. But then again, we add value to their lives, which is particular important to consumers in Indonesia, according to BrandZ.

In his book “The hidden logic that shapes our motivations” of Dan Ariely, he points out that giving meaning to any task instead of financially incentivizing is real power behind motivation. Not only will people work harder, they’re more proud of the results as well.

Adding meaning to smart

That’s in interesting territory, so let’s see what we can do to get senior people into smartphones, by adding purpose for them. There’s plenty of things they like, looking at the top 11 things people do on a smartphone. Just a couple of quick thoughts on what we could do:

Show the meaning
Focus on connecting with friends, family (children and grand children) and how joy full that is. Taking photos, sending messages or finding long lost friends (when they’re online).

It is a win-win for their children who might worry or feel that they’re neglecting them. They could be the first ambassadors or teachers.

Apps made simple booklet
A very simple book in Sesame street language that explains how to install Apps and en explanation of the top 10 relevant for senior people work, The booklet includes an 11th App which has more Apps that are explained simple. It’s combining their ‘old school skills’ helping them learn new technology.

Smartphone lessons
As Indonesia is a very community driven society, why not organize (branded) workshops in which senior people learn how to use a smartphone. It could be sponsored by a smartphone brand.

Simple Apps
As said, Apps are getting too complicated and multi-functional and as a result more complex to use by older people. Why not introduce simple apps. Apps that have big buttons and focused usability. Shopping, medicine, texting, social networks, games, basically anything is possible.

And here, we don’t have to re-invent the wheel. There are many existing apps doing this job for us.

BigTake Big Launcher is a meta- app that make things big and easy. The grid layout provides access to calls, messages, cameras, galleries, and SOS right from the home screen. Customizable layouts: adding new buttons or changing their position as they see fit. The only thing we need to is partner up, or put it in Simple booklet, so we make easy more easy.

The unusual suspects: Get the movement started

And this is just the beginning. It’s the good thing is as well when we get this senior movement started. Older adults are similar to the younger generations because they can be empowered through their own peer networks and be the catalyst among other older adults through sharing knowledge, inspiring them to see the value and need for a changed attitude by creating opportunities to educate them.

By sharing will not only give new knowledge but most importantly, it will give confidence among these elder people that they are not alone facing difficulties in learning new technologies. If we want old people to use smartphones we have to put some effort in it. We can’t expect they have the same savvy tech mind set as we have.

I recently read an article. An American science team recently published the results of a study into the remains of a primal elephant, which puts our understanding of American history to its head.

History may have to be rewritten. Until recently, the oldest clues for human life in America were about 15,000 years old, and the archaeologists could not believe their eyes when they saw the result of dating: the mastodont found in 1992 lived 130,000 years ago.

If that’s right, we need to add more than 100,000 years to the period when people live in America. Perhaps we should stop chasing primal elephants, but focus on the scratches on their bones.

Gerard Hoff is Strategy Director at Geometry Global Indonesia



The Jakarta Post, “Indonesia, SE Asia’s Digital Powerhouse,” August 2016.

Google/TNS, “Connected Consumer Study,” 2016, APAC.

Google/Ipsos, “Consumers in the Micro-Moment Survey,” 2016, APAC.

December 2014, Euromonitor International

Older Adults Should Not Be Left Behind, Jennell Williams-Zahir

The unusual suspects: Smartphones, are we smart enough with consumers?

Thin line between shock and surprise  


Traffic Lights

Although new ideas are needed, it is definitely not a guarantee new ideas are embraced. People are in the operating modus and as a result have the tendency to rely on routine. New ideas are out of the ordinary, have the tendency to brake routines and often take time to be implemented and, most importantly, make money.

That’s why new ideas often are perceived as a shock and that creates resistance. So the challenge is to make the idea come as a uplifting surprise. I made a small analysis of how ideas can be embraced:

How it is told
Most importantly it is the way the idea is told. Actually, it is better not to explain the idea. The best way is to define the problem, translate that into an opportunity and describe it in am inspiring way, so that people discover the idea almost by themselves. Words that help selling the idea are ‘imagine’ of ‘for example’,

Who’s telling it
Resistance can be a result of ego or focus and as a result, not anybody in an organisation can be the bringer of an idea. So the idea maker has to be tactical in choosing people to share the idea with. That also means the idea maker has to set aside his or her ego and focus on the added value it can bring to many.

When is it told
Interestingly enough, ideas are more embraced when others have already done it. Especially when it’s been successful. Problem of course is that it’s not original anymore and is actually not a new idea, but a copycat.

Actually the latter is the proof, that when you’re able to create the right story around a new idea and are able to tell it in an inspiring way, the biggest change people embracing it one creates.

It reminds me of a quote of David Ogilvy:

“In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman”

Thin line between shock and surprise  

Social media bravery

thumbHow come a lot of brands or companies are very boring on social media, while they know it’s very important and high on the agenda?

Their not brave enough.

And the funny thing is that marketing people making these decisions are the same people, together with thousands of other people who will laugh, like and share the same stuff that needed lot of bravery.

It is interesting to think about it.

What does it take to do, what you actually would personally like and share as a marketeer?
Is it becoming more creative, is it becoming tougher? Or create a greater understanding about social media? What is that wall between what you like and what you should, have to or must do as a marketeer?

I’ve been in many situations where great, creative ideas scared the living sh#%t out of people, but when they saw the kind-of same idea somewhere else or much later in time they liked it.

We all know the Apple baseline, Think different and it still makes sense (when you live up to it).

Our brain is trained to spot the differences, not to see  what we see al the time. That’s logical, because getting aroused about things that don’t need an immediate action and run away like hell (yes it is our limbic system, the same as a lizard has) will cost a lot of unnecessary energy.

It is the stuff that stand out that will make sense (when relevant (funny, interesting, touching, stimulating, …)) or better said, reach our senses.

I found a great presentation and good examples of a Belgian Advertising Agency called Duval Guillaume, showing bravery. Be inspired, become more brave!




Social media bravery

Magic potion for people and brands

TrnasparantWhat makes you laugh?
What makes you adore?
What touches you?

Most of the time it is something out of the ordinary. Out-of-the-ordinary, extraordinary. Ordinary is derived from the Latin word Ordianarius, meaning orderly. Ponder on that for while. Scary word, ordinary, orderly…

Yesterday I saw a number of great artists performing. They definitely were out of the ordinary and the crowd that went wild was humongous! It gave energy.

Painting is from Irene Hoff (visit

The same for Guernica from Pablo Picasso, the numerous paintings of Salvador Dali or the coloured squares of Piet Mondriaan. All paintings that were out of the ordinary and touched a lot of hearts (and souls).

And yet, we most of us try not to be out of the ordinary, but try to blend in. Being ordinary. When everybody’s doing that, the world would become a very boring place and everything will stay the same…

I believe every one of us has something extraordinary and with that extraordinary thing you can change the world!

In fact, with brands it is the same and brands on its own is nothing. All brands are created by extraordinary people. People with a vision and the bravery to resist the usual and be different (thanks Steve). That’s when the magic happens.

The funny thing is that ordinary people admire extraordinary people as long as they’re not working within their company. Interesting contradiction, isn’t it?

The big danger is that ordinary people within the companies do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different outcome and be surprised the outcome is the same or worse because the environment is changing.

In a way it is good that ordinary people exist within ordinary companies with ordinary brands, because it offers opportunities for the extraordinary. And they’ll grab them, and the customers too….

But when you in such a company it is not a good idea.
But no worries. To be successful, the only thing you need to do is to be extraordinary and be able to use that magic.
But, it is scary to be extraordinary.

That’s why I invented a Magic Potion. It is called Potion number YOU.
It’s very simple: Take a glass of water add a drop of lemon or citron, then a pinch of salt. Stir it three times clockwise, than slam it on a table and drink it.

You’ll instantly feel a twinkle to do something extraordinary.
Amazing isn’t it?

This one’s for inspiration:

Make the magic happen!



Magic potion for people and brands

Innovators and Path Creators

The properties of a Path Creator are: Pace, Focus Friends and Patience

The Path

To discover the world I like to run.

Whether I am in a new town or on holidays, I believe it’s a good way to get to know the environment (and stay healthy at the same time ;-)).  Also when I’m running from the house I like to discover new paths. On one on my runs I had an interesting metaphor.

Innovation is creating paths in the wilderness

Old paths are just there. Everyone takes them, so the ground is worn and the surface flat. Even in the dark, just a little moonshine lights up the light colour of the path. That is easy and relaxed running. At any pace.

The thing with new paths is that they’re new.
Therefore they are not there. It’s a potential path.

A potential path is just a very attractive area. To create a path means running from where you are to some point at the horizon. The point of freedom, freshness, new things, an adventure!

But because there’s no path, the ground is rough, rocky and unequal. The grass is high and robust and the risk of twisting an ankle or trip is always present.

That’s also why other people are not running there. They are afraid of the unfamiliar and the risk of twisting an ankle or fall over on the face.

It is the innovator that has to create the path and the best way to create a new path is to adapt speed and stay focussed on the surface so you don’t trip. You need to keep in shape to run the same track over and over again.

At this point it is good to inspire other runners to join. Together it is easier to create a path faster. The more feet on the rough ground, that faster it wears out.

Suddenly you see other runners are joining in, speeding up the path creating process. Let’s call them early adaptors and yes, we’re talking about the Adaptation curve.

After a while when more runners join in, you’ll notice your speed increases, thoughts start wondering again and suddenly you realize the rough track has turned into a path.

Not only that, more people are lining up to start running your path. Young, old, female, male. Their hesitating, but eventually they’re inspired enough to take the change to start running your new path as well. This is closing the gap or chasm.

Schermafbeelding 2013-09-12 om 12.01.47

Actually, the path becomes boring again.

It’s time to start finding a new path, but remember:
Pace, Focus, Friends and Patience.


Innovators and Path Creators

Increase the box

I used to work as a strategist in a ‘foreign’ country that scores very high on Uncertainty Avoidance on the cultural dimensions of Geerts Hofstede (which is by the way very interesting reading, also when dealing with multi-national environments).

The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.

The Dutch for example on the other hand, score very low.
Anyway, this experience taught me a thing or two that are applicable everywhere.

cbe9caa6_945404b3_2374_4941_9fc3_d8842b86a34bOne thing is, that it is not (just) about a great, world changing, creative, out-of-the-box ideas. Those ideas are scary. For people with a high Uncertainty Avoidance, these ideas are, eh, preferably Avoided. And not just uncertain people, it is a common human trait…

That made me think.

It is not about the ideas, it is about reducing fear and create acceptance for new ideas.

That changes the out-of-the -box way of thinking. Out-of-the-box ideas are great and necessary, but it’s also necessary to increase the box. Only then the world changing ideas have a chance of landing inside the box.

This is also a responsibility for creatives and strategist. Not just dropping the idea, but creating this new context, in which the idea has to – or can be – seen. This way it turns uncertainty into opportunity and changes into achievable challenges.

This way great ideas can change the world.

Increase the box


I think serendipity is one of the most beautiful words in the world.

Just taste it: se-ren-dip-i-ty. So good and it looks good as well.

It has a great origin, if I might add. It is based on a Persian fairy tale in which three princes of Serendip, (now Sri Lanka) traveled the world.

Have a read: . The word was ‘made up’ by Horace Walpole in 1754.

Needless to say, it is one of my favourite words. I think it’s a magic word.

The general idea: “making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of…”. I prefer to say it simple: find what you’re not looking for.

Serendipity it’s no sinecure: Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin that way. He wasn’t looking for it, Wilhelm Roentgen x-rays, Pfizer Viagra, Charles Goodyear vulcanized rubber, Harry Hoover stumbled by accident on Post-it’s, not the least of the inventions I would say..

I believe this a very interesting concept and think most of the people find just what they’re looking for. That sounds very boring.

I myself have a few techniques making serendipity happen. One of them I call snoitnevnoc. It’s conventions spelled backwards. The idea is simple: define the conventions and turn them around.

There are two interesting parts.

  1. You have to know the conventions. This is about knowledge (or curiosity). Knowing the facts, knowing your customer, the trends the competition, the products, everything. If you don’t know this, how can you make good decisions? Many people don’t (hey I didn’t say it was easy!).
  2. One has to have the guts and the insights to turn them around. Now it gets tricky. Conventions are the way things are usually done, so that is scary. It really gets people out of their ‘comfort zone’. But, it’s the basis for new thinking. Without it it’s hard to come up with something new.

A few years back I wrote some copy for a back pack customer:

“No man ever changed the world by doing nothing. Serendipity is the power of being prepared to discover the unexpected. Mankind’s greatest revelations have been brought into being that way. Therefore it’s wise to keep an open mind and let reality surprise you.”

I think we should all become more serendip thinkers. Not only that, I believe it is necessary to postpone any judging (yourself and others!) and try to see things form a different perspective, with different eyes and new a mindset. You’ll never know what you will find. You’ll never know when you can change the world…

Happy serendipping!