Cynthia Holcomb

Founder | CEO, Prefeye - Preference Science Technologies Inc.
Cynthia Holcomb, CEO and Founder of Prefeye, is pioneering the Art and Science of Preference. Her mission: humanize the digital experience, crossing the current emotional and sensory engagement barriers imposed by the digital world. Prefeye technologies are inspired by Cynthia’s 20+ years in the apparel and fashion industry, designing and building products for dozens of retailers and brands, including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Lord and Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom Product Group, Pendleton, QVC, Speedo and the home products industry. As Design Director to Nordstrom, Cynthia spent years watching shoppers make the decision to purchase or NOT to purchase. Curious, this led to 15 years of research and technological development based on the cognitive sciences of psychology, artificial intelligence and neuroscience. Cynthia’s focus: develop an agnostic, digital platform to decode how information is represented, processed, and transformed by human sensory perception, memory and emotion into the decision to purchase a product or brand by an individual shopper. Prefeye, Cynthia’s 5th startup, is a preference recommendation platform, individually preference-matching people to products. Prefeye is the digital equivalent of in-store shopping for products humans purchase based on emotion and individual sensory preference. Products like apparel, cars, homes, home furnishings, shoes and art. Cynthia’s work has appeared in Time Magazine, CNN, WWD and Apparel Technology. Cynthia holds a B.S. in Clothing and Textile Science. Nine patents filed in Preference shopping science. To learn more, visit:
  • Posted on: 10/19/2018

    Is apparel manufacturing coming back to America?

    Apparel manufactured in Japan versus Hong Kong versus Italy, for example, all has a different "make." Meaning the same exact garment will look different based on the country manufacturing it. The "needle" makes the difference -- meaning machinery, expertise, automation, environmental laws all play a role in the look and feel of the end product. As an apparel manufacturer myself, producing products in the '80s and '90s domestically, the U.S. "needle" was never that good. Clunky make. I think it is exciting that apparel manufacturing seems to be in the process of a resurgence here in the U.S. driven by new apparel entrepreneurs. For both retailers and new apparel brands, building a product to meet current "needle" expectations will take time and training.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2018

    Where are market research and analytics falling short?

    Thank you Ryan for sharing your excellent insights and comments in our conversation today. I appreciate it!
  • Posted on: 10/18/2018

    Where are market research and analytics falling short?

    Hi Joel. Thanks so much for your comments. I thought your article was right on target, which is why I choose your article to comment on today. You said "Market researchers on the provider or client side -- you must align to a digital future and tell marketers something important they do not know. You must light a new path forward into the addressable age or risk becoming redundant". You also said, "The acid test for no growth research is this: If your research could have been designed the same way 15 years ago, it is a no-growth business." I understand digital behavior has been and is the standard for ad spend. I interpreted your article as a call to action to comment on new ways to tell marketers, "something they do not know."
  • Posted on: 10/18/2018

    Where are market research and analytics falling short?

    Digital "behavior" is folly. Digital behavior is not a representation of what is going on in the mind of a shopper. Solving for digital behavior is like fishing the ocean for human emotion. The evidence of this monumental disconnect is clearly stated in Joel's article. The future now is new technologies using the exact same data, in a new way, and that is to solve for human emotion which taps into individual sensory preferences. The #1 reason a human makes the decision (falls in love with a product) to purchase. The future of digital is the human element. Technology standing right before our eyes, yet most are blind to it.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2018

    Eddie Lampert is the worst

    Morally corrupt, the legacy of Mr. Lampert. It is heartening in a world of constant "spinning" for financial and political gain that a human moral compass still exists within us, the rank and file.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2018

    ‘Frictionless’ is the annoying word of the year

    "Frictionless" shopping really means "gaming the shopper." Most egregious are pricing schemes. Let's see — I get rewarded with a higher price if I look at a product online twice. There is a lot of talk and media buzz in this industry that piles on to the next and newest shiny "frictionless" shopping experience. Unpleasantness is a new name for faux "frictionless." In retail, like all professions, self-talk can replace common sense.
  • Posted on: 10/15/2018

    Will J.C. Penney’s new private brand connect with Instagram-savvy moms?

    The product in the video is actually fresh in a J.C. Penney way. Merchandising apparel products as a mom discovery platform inspired and built by Instagram moms and designers who know how to commercialize apparel products works -- if what I see in the video is a reality. After years of design directing myself, I see a new creative, commercial opportunity to put J.C. Penney on the right apparel path. Inspiring new visions within the J.C. Penney brand. A reason for being J.C. Penney.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2018

    Is Amazon on the right path to improved product discovery with Scout?

    Sorry Amazon. Scout does not evaluate the 3-dimensional, individual HUMAN SENSORY and emotional preferences of fit, look and feel. Humans purchase and keep a product when the product's attributes in combination match the buyer's individual sensory preferences. Only then is there an emotional home run for the buyer. Here is a link to my comments on the Scout announcement earlier this week. Read if interested in a deeper context on why the Scout solution does not solve the sensory gap of digital shopping.
  • Posted on: 10/11/2018

    Would biometric feedback shopping carts creep out Walmart’s customers?

    Wow! So glad Walmart is addressing the common issue of passing out in the grocery store. Possibly Walmart can book my next doctor appointment while I shop. Walmart engineers or whoever is filing patents need to get out of their headset!
  • Posted on: 10/09/2018

    Gap sends its Visa cardholders to Amazon and Target

    Huh? What? Meaningless noise to consumers as the value of this offer is too difficult to track, let alone comprehend. Looks like Gap is giving a gift to consumers prior to its retirement from retail.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2018

    Giant Food expects big things from a new, mini-grocery store concept

    Curious about the name — "Heirloom Market". Will there be heirloom produce? Keeping produce fresh is key. Of late, likely due to low unemployment, I have noticed local grocery stores struggling to hire staff (Kroger) resulting in a dramatic reduction in produce quality (romaine trimmed to the point of non-existence, soggy cukes, etc.) and an "edge" replacing the previous friendly employee vibe. Endless aisles seem to be code for few humans. If this is a Giant test for a Giant small-format neighborhood store, friendly staff, fresh food will be the key. If not, Trader Joe here we come!
  • Posted on: 10/05/2018

    Is Target ready for Amazon and Walmart this holiday season?

    Simple. Target has cool stuff! It's easy to shop and easy to buy via accessible price points and size ranges. Young women's apparel offerings remind me of days before basic key items took the place of original and fresh design, well-merchandised. The revamp of young men's apparel if executed like women's will invite a new generation of men to Target. The addition of Magnolia Market to home is another reason for a trip to Target. Christmas will be good for Target. Easy in and out enhanced by new customer-centric delivery options.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2018

    Can a new CEO revitalize J.C. Penney’s business?

    The biggest challenge? Who is the JC Penney customer? The answer to that question will be very difficult to obtain for the newest JC Penney CEO in a climate of noise and shareholder/board angst. In reality, Ms. Soltau will need to determine those she can trust to work by her side to clear the political clutter, inspire tired employees and foster a renewed sense of genuine Aspiration for the brand internally. Key will be allowing Ms. Soltau time to deep dive into what is the new vision of the JC Penney brand, which is predominately executed by apparel offerings, while at the same time discovery of how the new JC Penney brands fit into the matrix of competitive vertical retail brands. In other words, a reason for being. The true essence of the JC Penney brand, if one exists at this point, must be transitioned to reflect today’s JC Penney customer. With a decade of evidence of what does NOT work for JC Penney, along with Ms. Soltau. as new CEO, it appears shareholders are willing to give Ms. Soltau a realistic period of time for discovery and execution of new JC Penney brand[s]. Given Ms. Soltau's hands-on, in the trenches apparel product and production background, I think she has the opportunity to be a woman rock star!
  • Posted on: 10/03/2018

    Trader Joe’s success is a matter of values

    Shopping Trader Joe's is an emotional experience! The stores are happy places filled with products made without nasty, unhealthy fillers, just read the TJ pledge mounted high in every store. It is so easy to shop TJ, I find myself bagging my own groceries as the cashier and I have a real conversation. Trader Joe's 7 point value list, created the magic formula able to duplicate itself over and over again, in cities and towns across the country. The experience is truly authentic.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2018

    Can a new store concept jumpstart a turnaround for H&M?

    Without getting too far into the weeds, H&M's product offerings reflect a design and production team with a lack of vision and expertise. Fast fashion does not mean shoddy patterns, lackluster production and cheesy fabrics. H&M needs a reboot. Hire skilled merchants, designers, patternmakers and production people. I can see how H&M got in this mess, throwing product at various factories. Great product at all price points takes a committed global design and manufacturing effort of developing brand standards and adhering to those standards. Interestingly funny, I have found over the years that vertical retailers resist the effort to utilize and deploy apparel design and production best practices. Knowledgeable apparel geeks can execute great product at the same H&M price point. I do not believe in-store cafes will lift H&M's sales.

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