By  on April 12, 2010

DALLAS — Kenneth Cole admitted to feeling a bit befuddled by social media during a speech Tuesday night at Southern Methodist University, but he’s full-speed ahead anyway.

“There is this stuff called blogging and friending and following, which makes me dizzy, but I have committed to be part of that journey because I know it is so relevant to the world we are living in,” said Cole, a guest speaker in SMU’s Tate Lecture Series.

“It’s amazing because now there is this dialogue, and now you know specifically what [consumers] are looking for,” he said. “Then there is this other thing called Twitter, which is so confounding I can’t tell you. So I am tweeting like a jerk. I have to do this because I can impose my points of view on still more people, unsuspecting people…and I can use that vehicle to communicate social messages.”

In his presentation, Cole recounted the history of his company and its commitment to promoting AIDS awareness and supporting research.

Regarding the Internet revolution, he described a “whole new business landscape” of consumers with short attention spans who are bombarded with information.

“The consumer is uncompromising — they want everything on their terms, when they want it and how they want it,” Cole said. “Customers realize today that the value equation is very different. They can buy a pair of shoes for $1, and if they never wore them, they paid too much. So we have to speak to them in different ways.”

Asked after his talk about what he’s hearing from consumers via social media, Cole replied: “They want shoes that they can wear that serve their lifestyle needs, and they are very excited with the notion of comfortable and versatile and practical. They like lower heels rather than higher heels, but then there is always that woman who wants high heels.”

He said that, while cause marketing is expanding, companies must do it with integrity or risk a backfire.

“Everybody is struggling to figure out how to have a voice and how to get involved in something important,” Cole noted. “It’s not about creating a message and then holding up a flag. It has to be an organizational commitment…or it doesn’t mean anything, and it probably would work against one to do that.”

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus