From the April 1998 issue of Entrepreneur

Although it's too soon to say if the "Dancing Baby" will grow into a full-fledged trend, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the birth of the tot with all the right moves. An Internet sensation, "Dancing Baby" recently gained prime-time TV exposure courtesy of the popular new Fox series "Ally McBeal."

For those who have yet to catch a glimpse of the rug-cutting tyke, we'll explain: Originally included as a demonstration segment of the Character Studio animation software released by San Francisco- based Kinetix in mid-1996, "Dancing Baby" has attained a sort of cult status among Internet aficionados eager to add new steps to the infant's routine. The end result is lifelike--perhaps eerily so.

"It's phenomenal," says Jim Guerard, Kinetix's general manager, of the interest in "Dancing Baby." "We're in discussions about [future projects]."

And that's about as much baby talk as we were privy to. Even the gender of the groovin' youngster, alas, remains a mystery. Says Guerard, "You'll have to stay tuned."

Wealthy Returns

Hey, big spenders!

Consider it a clear case of upward mobility. As the economy keeps percolating away, upper-income--and even moderate-income--consumers are taking advantage of the bountiful late 1990s by indulging in luxury purchases. "There are more companies identifying themselves as luxury [marketers]," says Scotty Dupree, executive editor of the new quarterly trade magazine Luxe. "And this is fueled by the number of consumers who spend money on luxury goods and services."

Significantly, however, this latest surge in spending is far different from 1980s ostentatiousness. Forget diamond tiaras; luxury in the 1990s is more of a controlled extravagance.

"Instead of having a lot of things in our homes, we'd rather have a few things of high quality," Dupree explains.

Interestingly, Dupree sees the luxury trend as a hybrid of the spend-happy 1980s and the value-driven years that comprised the first part of this decade. "It's more of an understated sense of luxury now," she says. "We're not head-to-toe luxury; we're select luxury."

Welcome to the age of inconspicuous consumption.

Teen Beep

What's the "007" about pagers?

Parents just don't understand--well, a lot of them don't, anyway. And that's part of the allure of pagerspeak for a generation of teens that treats pagers with the same sort of reverence other generations reserved for boomboxes and CD players. It's a whole new technological world--one with its own language.

For those not in the know, pagerspeak consists of numerical combinations that translate into friendly, prodding and even downright derogatory messages that kids leave each other. According to a list of pager codes compiled by Motorola, "13" is "I'm having a bad day." Other samples: "1" means "You da man," "1776" means "You're revolting," and "007" means "I've got a secret."

Some codes are easier to crack than others, but for entrepreneurs who want to market to pager-toting kids, it'd certainly be wise to do a little number crunching.

Flash!

What caught our eye at the recent California Gift Show? Glad you asked. A range of products--from "shalom" doormats to menorahs--underscore the growing interest in Jewish spirituality and culture.

  • where were the aliens?

Unless Godzilla counts, there weren't too many space invaders.

  • cuddly smokey bear could catch fire among bear-loving consumers.
  • a one-word description of countdown-to-millennium clocks: Cool.
  • coke is still it--judging by the plenitude of memorabilia on hand.
  • steel away--wood furnishings are back in vogue.
  • the lone ranger might saddle up for a comeback.
  • the kids from "South Park" are at the head of the class.

Contact Source

Kinetix, 642 Harrison St., 3rd Fl., San Francisco, CA 94107, http://www.ktx.com