The last decade has seen some real challenges on the high-street. As the continuous advent of new technologies shift and create consumer behaviours, retail businesses have had to pivot their approach to in-store and online engagement. Not everyone has been successful in doing this, and the loss of over 400 medium-to-large UK retail businesses in the last decade can attest to that. However, many legacy retailers have transformed their businesses to become major disruptors in their sector, creating new engagement opportunities that surprise and excite both new and established consumers.
CREATING CONSUMER BEHAVIOURS
However, it’s not all bad news for retailers. By capitalising on the power of this disruptive force, and understanding the role that technology now plays in consumer engagement, many companies are riding the waves of success in this evolving era. As PWC reports, Uber dropped off its billionth global ride within six years, Netflix streams 125 million hours of content worldwide each day and 90% of US respondents surveyed claimed to be Amazon shoppers. These companies succeeded not by adapting their businesses to adhere to consumer demands, but actually changed the way consumers engaged with businesses by creating new consumer behaviours.
Bricks-and-mortar stores are different, and creating new consumer behaviours are harder to achieve where legacy demands that stores act in a certain way – often brand heritage can be a disadvantage in a way that newer brands such as Uber, Netflix or Amazon aren’t as impacted by. According to PWC, shoppers want a seamless shopping experience both online and offline. However according to their findings, how this is delivered to them differs. In-store, consumers expect experiences, with knowledgeable staff to guide them through their purchase decisions, whereas online they are looking for convenience. Some of our clients have begun addressing this, such as Starbucks with their ambient, in-store experience with accessible Wi-Fi and extended menu, paired with an app to expedite your coffee purchasing for those on the move. Nike offers a running club, where consumers can join other like-minded athletes to jog around the city together, paired with a popular fitness tracking app that in itself has created a new type of consumer behaviour.
THE OMD RETAIL EXPO
Throughout October, OMD EMEA is running an internal initiative at our headquarters in London, aimed at addressing these challenges and capitalising on the opportunities within the retail sector. The OMD Retail Expo is a four-week programme of talks, training initiatives and thought-leadership sessions, designed to empower our agency teams, and subsequently our clients, to become disruptors of their respective industries. We will be tackling some of the most pertinent trends in the retail industry, presented by some of the leading experts in the market. We will also be running our very first Retail Expo Start-Up Village, focusing on shoppable customer content, in-store experiences online, and utilising neural networking to optimise consumer feedback. We will welcome behemoths from the digital world who are already disrupting the retail sector, including Google, Amazon, Oath and Facebook and bring together our very own OMD and OMG specialists to inspire everyone to become disruptors in their field; including social commerce, affiliate marketing and mobile retail. Stay tuned for more updates throughout October and November!
DISRUPT OR DIE
With Business Wire predicting that the global retail industry will be worth 28 trillion USD by 2019, the size of the prize is huge. As new, bolder companies come into the market and disrupt the legacy thinking, slower brands are missing the opportunity to pivot and failing. But with that comes even greater numbers of these new, bolder companies and consumers’ expectations are continually evolving with technical transformation. Only those that adapt and disrupt will survive.
Amazon Go is a bricks-and-mortar grocery shop due to open to the public in 2017. The Seattle-based store will enable people with an Amazon Go app ‘just to walk’ out of the store without the need to wait in line to pay or check out. Amazon said that it started working on the concept four years ago by bringing together technologies found in self-driving cars (such as computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning) to create a store. The technology used in-store is able to detect when products are taken or returned to the shelves, keeping a track of them in your virtual cart. After picking up what you want in the store, your Amazon account will automatically be charged and receive a receipt. Powered by artificial intelligence this is a huge development for the future of retail and in-store experiences, which have been struggling to compete with e-commerce. It will be interesting to see how other high street brands react to this development in 2017.
And finally, if you’re feeling ambitious but stuck for inspiration for Christmas…
As ever, please tag and share anything you spot with #OMDFWD.
There is a huge amount of debate in the marketing industry regarding millennials, our value, affect and the way in which we are shaping the future of the industry as we know it. However who better to ask than a millennial themselves? As a 26-year-old working in the marketing industry I decided to take a closer look at why we’re a generation to be taken seriously.
When looking at the importance of the millennial generation to advertisers I could simply say we’re important because we’re shaping the future of the world. However that in itself is a huge statement so to break that down…millennials today account for nearly 50% of the world’s population. This makes us the dominant workforce and the generation holding the majority of the globe’s spending power. A recent study by Accenture found we spend on average $600 billion each year, and therefore based on this staggering figure alone, I’d say at the very least we’re worth advertisers’ consideration! With millennials spanning an age range of 16-34, 1 in 4 of us are now parents, holding not only the spending power and purchasing decisions for ourselves, but for our families. However it’s not just about sheer numbers, although these are impressive and would make a compelling argument by themselves. For me it’s the way in which we behave that makes us such an important and interesting target audience.
As a generation of digital natives we live in a hyper-connected world that provides endless opportunities at our fingertips, fuelling a hunger to discover more. This means that our expectations have permanently changed and are constantly changing: we want more in life, to discover more and go further, and in turn we demand not only more from our lives and ourselves but also from the brands we love. By demanding more we’re challenging brands, pushing them to be more innovative and creative in order to catch our attention and create noise. If advertisers weren’t striving to break the mould would Virgin Holidays have created a campaign using Virtual Reality to sell holidays? If we weren’t a generation pushing brands to be more innovative we could still be booking our holidays on the telephone. Likewise, if Carlsberg wasn’t interested in capturing our imaginations, they would dedicate their entire media budget to TV instead of making a bar (of the booze variety!) made entirely out of chocolate!
Not only are we a generation whose demand is fuelling continuous innovation but we’re the harshest critics, and therefore the best generation for a brand to learn from in order to gain a share of voice and see real business growth. Yet it is not just about our being opinionated that is important to advertisers, but the fact that we share our views on blogs, social media, with our friends, family and colleagues. We can make or break a brand in a few keystrokes, and brands know it. With 67% of consumers using a company’s social media channel for customer service, hundreds of brands including Nike, Starbucks and Walmart have customer service teams dedicated to their social channels, ready to handle negative comments and promote praise.
By challenging brands to be continually dynamic, millennials have subsequently become a force that has changed the way advertisers use media. The way in which brands interact with a 16-year-old on Snapchat vs. how they engage with a 34-year browsing Instagram or through Stylist magazine on a Tuesday commute home is very different. There is therefore no ‘one size fits all’ strategy when looking at the channels through with to engage millennials and this again has led advertisers to view their marketing strategies through a different lens.
Whilst we cannot group millennials into a single channel or platform, I think there are inherent themes that apply to all millennials which advertisers can apply to any media channel. For example, I believe authenticity is incredibly important – and by authenticity I mean approachable authenticity: we want to see and hear from real people who we can relate to, or aspire to be like. This theme comes to life through blogs, vlogging and social media; Zoella’s YouTube channel has over seven million subscribers whilst the Kardashian sisters have a combined Instagram following of 275 million. With 50% of millennials researching products on social media, we can see what a powerful and credible tool it can be. By building their brand through social media and reality TV the Kardashians’ empire is now worth $300 million.
With millennials spending an estimated 22 hours on their phone each week it would seem an easy solution to simply target us through digital channels; however, I believe we can still be reached through traditional channels by being authentic. Notably, Dove’s Beauty Sketches campaign used real, normal women to shine a light on the differences in beauty perceptions. This campaign resonated with millennial women around the world and resulted in becoming the most viral video of all time, with over 135 million views.
Another theme that I believe can transgress all media channels is the evolution of the brand ambassador. I have already mentioned how important it is for millennials to feel like they can connect with real people and I think this is becoming particularly apparent in who advertisers now pick to front campaigns. The most successful supermodels today are no longer just visible on the catwalk and billboards, but let us into their lives. The likes of Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid (millennials themselves) now take us backstage at the Victoria Secret Show and on their Saturday night out with the Taylor Swift squad, opening their world to us via social media. Their influence cannot be ignored and many brands such as H&M and Balmain have chosen to embrace it.
To promote their new partnership and collection with H&M, Balmain chose Kendall, Gigi and Jourdan Dunn to front their campaign which launched exclusively on Instagram. Using their influence with the millennial audience H&M and Balmain’s collaboration went on to be their most successful, with an Instagram reach larger than the UK population and the range selling out online and in-store in a matter of hours. This demonstrates the power of brand ambassadors when attributed to the right brand.
Likewise the role of the brand ambassador can be just as influential when used on traditional media channels, if advertisers use the right person to fit their purpose. For instance, Burberry’s use of Emma Watson, a millennial we have grown up with watching Harry Potter and whose passions for issues such as gender equality we now share, led to a 23% increase in sales for the brand.
I could go on about the themes that I think are important to millennials that can be used on any media channel, but the key point I am trying to address is that millennials are changing the way advertisers address their marketing strategies. It’s not just about our sheer numbers and spending power that makes us an important audience but our behaviour and what advertisers can learn from us. By being a demanding generation and challenging brands to always be more innovative than the previous day, we are pushing them to find new ways to create noise, which means looking at how channels can be used in new ways. You just have to look at Carlsberg’s billboard including a beer tap to see how traditional channels can be using in a unique way to catch our attention. By taking note of millennials’ demands, criticism and behaviour we offer advertisers the opportunity to learn, challenge themselves and in turn become the most innovative, creative and powerful brands in the world.