What We’re Reading: Tis the Season

The holidays are upon us. And, yes, while this means that a number of local radio stations will be playing Christmas music from now until December 25, there are other implications for both businesses and consumers this time of year. Big-name brands have released another round of holiday-centric marketing campaigns and many organizations are setting goals for the next fiscal year and realigning their values and strategies. See what’s newsworthy this first week in December as we share what we’ve been reading.

The cost of Christmas is rising…again. PNC Bank released its annual Christmas Price Index (CPI) this week. This holiday-themed twist on the Consumer Price Index – an index of the variation in prices paid by typical consumers for retail goods and other items – is based on the verses of popular holiday song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” And in 2011, for the first time ever, all 364 gifts included in the song would cost over $100,000 ($101,199.84 to be exact), a 4.4 percent increase compared to last year.

Marketing’s gone mobile. This December, look only as far as your cell phone to find most popular holiday campaigns as brands give customers a mobile experience with new seasonal apps for smart phones. Starbucks created the Cup Magic app that animates characters on its signature, red holiday cups. Macy’s created the Believe-O-Magic app that allows Santa’s devotees to create festive holiday photos with an iPhone. And of course, because ‘tis the season for giving, stop by the Salvation Army outside your local vendors to donate with a credit card using the mobile payment device, the Square app.

Social media’s presence is pervasive. The holidays are a typically a time for feasting, but thanks to social media, apparently no one stops to have real meal anymore. According to a recent USA Today study, only five percent of Americans eat three, square meals a day. Instead, we snack all day and take our food ‘to go.’ It’s as if our social media habits are going straight to our stomachs. Jay Baer, author of social media blog, Convince and Convert, draws the connection between our consumption of calories and content. In 2011, time windows are extinct – both for meals and breaking news. People tweet bite-sized pieces of information instead of preparing a formal news story. We may know faster, but is this fat-free, real-time version of news enough to satisfy our hunger for information?

Collaboration is dangerous? Author and corporate director Nilofer Merchant shares eight reasons why collaboration can be dangerous to your company and its productivity in the Harvard Business Review blog. Her reasons include uncomfortable group dynamics, information (over)sharing, fear of fighting and “too much talking, not enough doing.” While collaboration might not be right for every organization, at Standing, it’s right for us. In fact, collaboration is one of our four key values. We eagerly seek out the experience and insights of our clients and colleagues. We assemble multi-disciplinary and cross-functional teams to enhance our learning and to create better solutions. So, while other companies are realigning, Standing is proud to announce that you will see more of the same in 2012 – collaborating with each other and our clients.

Tell us how you are gearing up for the holiday season this year or share what you’ve been reading about this week.