I'm the Co-founder and CEO of The Grommet. We launch undiscovered consumer products. It's also the birthplace of Citizen Commerce. I write about design, cultural anthropology, and start-ups, mostly.

“I’ve met the expert and he is us.” –Pogo in 2010

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   Not that long ago, in a now-outdated era of traditional media, people who could simply garner more audience were deemed “experts.”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.


7 Responses to ““I’ve met the expert and he is us.” –Pogo in 2010”

  1. Karlsbad

    “Everybody is a star” Sly & The Family Stone … could not be more true in 2010! It is happening…we are in the midst of a massive shift not only in where we get our information but who we are listening to. We are looking for “the genuine article” real people & social proof to help us make important decisions. Places like FB, YouTube, The Daily Grommet, our favorite blog(s). We want relevant information that speaks to us and want to add to the conversation when we have something from our own expertise to add to the conversation….wow! Traditional television is dead…the programming is far to broad…we want focused niche information. The rebirth of television is happening right now…and will get us out from behind the PC screen and into the living room to watch our favorite “niche” programing that is streaming and internet based, video blogs etc. Anybody right now can have a streaming TV show on the internet and do it practically free. Exciting times ahead…hey Jules…when are we going to get you on Ustream with a TV show?!

    Reply
  2. Michael Flint

    Daily Grommet has perfected “Reality Checked”. Perhaps one of your biggest challenges is actually getting all the voices heard from the product manufactureres to the reviewers to the end users. You guys are doing a great job. I really like the new site as well.

    Reply
    • julespieri

      Nice to hear your vote of confidence Michael…means a lot to me. And you are right….the conversations we inspire, and the voices we try to include are on so many levels.

      Reply
  3. Karlsbad

    Yep. Southern California surfer dude helping people take care of their cars…the way a pro would. I take the mystery out of proper car care with pro products and personal support + coaching. I prefer to spend more time surfing than taking care of my cars… I show people the tricks to do it fast and correctly, saving a ton of money by doing it themselves, so they can spend time doing things they really want to do! Because I like to have my cake and eat it too!

    Ha…sure I’ll be your agent!

    PS file this under anything is possible: I was thinking about doing a “virtual” surf camp… surf lessons on the internet? Learn how to surf even if your 1000 miles from the ocean and its 20 below outside!

    Reply

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