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business Editor's pick product Retail technology

6 brands driving consumer engagement through customization

The availability of data and an increased purchasing power has pushed retailers to create products and services beyond the standard selection. Whilst traditionally customization was seen as a luxury feature, the democratization of fashion has led to many high street retailers offering the service as another way to engage consumers.

In today’s digital era, the abundance of data has made it easier for retailers to personalize marketing content, but this is now going one step further to individual design and styling. Consumers want products tailored to their own specific needs and style, and by offering customization, retailers can increase their value and differentiate from the competition. 

From a business perspective, offering customization can be financially rewarding too, as 1 in 5 consumers will pay a 20% premium for personalized products or services. Customization can also be a sustainable method of production, as products are created to meet the exact demand, thus minimizing the risk of excess stock. 

Meanwhile, as manufacturing processes become more sophisticated and streamlined through features like 3D printing and automation, customization is something we will see more of in the future. As we continue to watch this trend develop, here are 6 brands driving engagement  through customization.

Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton custom Run Away sneaker

The sneaker industry is expected to be worth $95.14billion by 2025, and Louis Vuitton is another luxury brand hoping to tap into that booming market by offering consumers customized sneakers. Consumers will have the option to customize the Run Away sneaker by changing its colour, material and stripes and for an extra personal touch, get their initials printed or hot stamped on the shoe.

Fame & Partners
Fame & Partners bridemaids dresses

Fame and Partners is a contemporary womenswear brand based in LA trying to combat overproduction in the fashion industry by offering made-to-order garments. Through their Custom Clothing studio, consumers can customize any item by choosing the silhouette, sleeve length or neckline. The brand’s strategy eliminates the need for excess stock, helping to reduce waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill. 

Function of Beauty
Function of Beauty custom hair care

This DTC beauty brand has taken over social media with its Instagrammable hair care line that target Gen Z consumers who are seeking products unique to their needs. Consumers can go online and take a quiz to determine their hair profiles, selecting up to five hair goals, ranging from color protection to curl definition. They can also choose both the scent and color of their products, creating a customized product from design to function. Each bottle is then formulated using clean ingredients, which are cruelty-free and 100% vegan.

Rapha
Rapha custom collection

Cult British brand Rapha is disrupting the cycling market by partnering with Unmade to create a customizable team collection. Customers are given the opportunity to create their own unique jersey designs, including team logos, which are then manufactured into a bespoke product. Poor user experience and long lead times are usually a set back when it comes to customization, but Unmade’s print solution allows for quick bespoke manufacturing on a smaller scale.

Puma
Puma’s new NYC flagship

To enhance customer experience in store, Puma has created an exclusive customization studio at its new flagship store in New York. Customers can customize a range of footwear and apparel using paints, patchwork, embroidery, 3D knitting, laser printing and material upcycling. The studio also collaborates with new artists on a bi-weekly basis, with Sue Tsai, BWOOD and Maria Jahnkoy being the most recent.

Levi’s
Levi’s customization patches

Levi’s brand strategy has revolved around making products your own since the original blue jean was patented in 1873. These days, many Levi’s shops have a dedicated tailor shop that can customize and repair products, such as adding patches, studs, embroidery, stencilling and distressing, so consumers can have a one-of-a-kind product. To align with its sustainability initiatives, the brand also offers a full repair service which does anything from fixing rips and holes to color fading, helping well-worn jeans gain a new lease of life.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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business Campaigns e-commerce Editor's pick mobile product Retail social media technology

6 examples of brands winning on TikTok

If there’s one social media platform buzzing right now, it’s TikTok, a space that allows users to create and share short lip-sync, comedy and talent videos.  

With an audience of almost half a billion users in its two year existence, and a +237% monthly growth rate between 2017-2018, brands are now thinking about how they can tap into it. 

The platform, which is owned by Chinese tech giant Byedance, and was merged with Musical.ly in 2018, has proven wildly successful among Chinese consumers. This has since transferred to the US, with 2.6m actively users taking to the platform in February alone, placing it as the most downloaded app in the country during Q1. The loyalty of Generation Z and Millennials have been driving usage particularly, with 66% of users reportedly under the age of 30. 

While the likes of Snapchat and Instagram are being questioned – both in terms of popularity on the one hand, and functionality on the other, TikTok has swooped in to grab some of the key market share. Importantly, it’s doing so by thinking about functionality first – its recommendations are much more accurate than other social media platforms, for instance, meaning viewers get better content tailored to their interests, which spurs advocacy for the app further. It has also added the functionality of shopping by allowing brands to drive users to ecommerce-enabled microsites that open directly within the TikTok app. 

As a result, we’re seeing brands and retailers taking to TikTok to push products, increase engagement and drive loyalty among younger consumers. Here are six examples of those incorporating it into their marketing strategy today…

Hero Cosmetics
Hero Cosmetics holy grail patches

Direct-to-consumer skincare brand, Hero Cosmetics, utilized TikTok in its new ‘Get Ready with Me’ campaign, featuring 20 creators sharing their morning routines. The campaign was targeted at Gen Zers, and plugged into a #schoolsurvivivalkit hashtag to tie it to back to school essentials. The videos, which reached 4.3m users, had a 12% engagement rate compared to only 4.5% for Instagram, the brand said.

Uniqlo
Uniqlos #UTPlayYourWorld campaign

Apparel retailer Uniqlo teamed up with Tiktok as part of its #UTPlayYourWorld campaign to promote its 2019 spring/summer collection. Users were encouraged to upload videos wearing their favourite outfits from the collection and would be entered into a competition to get their video played in store. The campaign was available for those in the US, France, Japan and Taiwan and generated over 600m views on the platform.

Burberry
Burberry Fall 2019 campaign

Even luxury brands are jumping on the TikTok bandwagon to gain traction with younger consumers. Burberry challenged users to upload videos of themselves attempting to do a “TB’ hand gesture, reflecting the Thomas Burberry monogram newly instated from creative director Riccardo Tisci. 30,000 videos were uploaded to the platform, generating 57 million views for the brand.

NFL
NFL TikTok Campaign

The NFL signed a two year agreement with TikTok to post content on the platform, including highlights, sideline moments and behind the scenes clips. To celebrate the collaboration, a #WeReady hashtag challenge was created to encourage users to show their support for their favourite teams. The challenge is the beginning of the NFL’s strategy to engage younger consumers in sports, as only 41% of Gen Z reportedly watch sports on television, compared to 75% of Baby Boomers.

Ralph Lauren
Diana Silvers, the face of Ralph Lauren’s campaign

To celebrate the US Open Tennis Championships, Ralph Lauren used TikTok as its campaign platform of choice. Consumers were asked to share a time when they won a real life challenge, by using the hashtag #WinningRL. Ralph Lauren face Diana Silvers, an actress and tennis player, took part in the campaign with a series of three videos that made use of TikTok’s latest shopability widget that lets customers buy directly within the app. Users could discover the brand’s US Open collection, which featured polos, tennis skirts and shorts.

Chipotle
Chipotle’s #GuacDance challenge

To celebrate national avocado day, Chipotle launched a TikTok campaign called the #GuacDance challenge. The food chain called on its customers to upload dancing videos to express their love of the food. The campaign was the platform’s highest performing branded challenge in the US, receiving 250,000 video submissions.

How are you thinking about technology? The Current Global is a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion, luxury and retail. Our mission is to solve challenges and facilitate change. We are thinkers and builders delivering innovative solutions and experiences. Each of the rules referenced above is matched by one of our products and services. Interested in how? Get in touch to learn more.

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e-commerce Editor's pick mobile Retail technology

6 loyalty activations driving customer engagement

Today’s consumers are increasingly spoilt by choice, meaning brands  have to work harder than ever to earn any level of loyalty. That hasn’t stopped many from trying however. 

In today’s retail climate, personalization is king, with customers seeking brands that tailor their products and services to their behaviors. When done correctly,  loyalty programs not only respond to that need, but can generate over 20% of a company’s profits, according to McKinsey

Retailers across the board – from larger names like Target and Nordstrom to standalone brands like Nike – are revamping their traditional spend-and-reward offerings to add layers of digital that respond to the modern consumer.

From tapping into an engaged community and encouraging gamified behavior, to pushing personalized spending in-store, here we highlight some of the most innovative loyalty approaches:

FOSTERING COMMUNITY

Victoria's Secret PINK NATION
Victoria’s Secret PINK NATION

One of the cornerstones of the Victoria’s Secret’s PINK brand, is its college ambassador program, which recruits university students across the country representatives. The role is not too dissimilar from a social media influencer, with responsibilities including promoting the brand on social, offering followers advice and organizing campus events and get-togethers. Ambassadors dedicate up to 10-hours a week to their roles for free, and see this as an opportunity to build a personal brand with PINK’s support.

The brand’s loyalty program, PINK NATION, has also received an upgrade and launched its very first app, aiming to emulate a girl’s club. This includes exclusive member perks as well as a dedicated Campus tab where customers can chat with ambassadors. Ultimately, the brand wants to scale to include more college-life related content.

Flipkart-owned fashion retailer Myntra also took a similar crowdsourced approach to loyalty when it launched the Shopping Groups feature in 2017, in the run-up to its  End Of Reason Sale (otherwise known as EORS). Shoppers could team up with their friends and families on the platform to shopping groups, where all purchases were tallied together to unlock further special discounts for the whole group. 

The retailer reported almost 100,000 shopping groups being formed during the sale as a result, contributing to around 18% of sales.

INCENTIVIZING ACTION

Nike Plus
Nike Plus

Starbucks boasts one of the most successful retail apps to date with 23.5m active users. In order to encourage loyalty and get more customers to join its booming loyalty program that sits alongside (15m users), it launched a gamification experience called the Summer Game Boardwalk this year. 

Anyone could play the virtual board game, which prompted users to tap a spinner and advance steps in order to tally points, similar to a game of Monopoly. At the end, loyalty members received points towards their accounts, while general app users were prompted to join the program in order to receive the same.

Meanwhile this year NikePlus added a number of interactive experiences for its members, extending the remit of physical activity into wider lifestyles. Nike collaborated with three key partners to do so – Apple Music, mindfulness app Headspace, and gym booking app ClassPass, to encourage consumers to be active in order to receive more rewards. For example, if the user completed and logged a workout within the app, it would unlock free Apple Music playlists.

With this program, the sportswear brand is hoping to triple its 100m user membership number.

DRIVING IN-STORE ENGAGEMENT 

Inside the Philosophy skincare Manhattan store
Inside the Philosophy skincare Manhattan store

According to research company Bond, 95% of loyalty members want to engage with brands via new technologies. In-store, deploying digital tools is an opportunity for brands to engage and acquire new loyal customers at the point of sale, when demand is at its highest.

At Coty-owned make up brand Philosophy’s flagship in Manhattan, loyal customers are recognized and rewarded via facial recognition. Upon entering the store, customers are asked to take a selfie with their own phones and send it to a designated phone number. Registered customers can then be recognized on screens, which offers them special discounts. Over time, customers are pushed more tailored notifications and one-to-one consultants based on previous behavior.

Also in New York, is Nordstrom’s new menswear store, which is offering a higher level of service for its newly revamped Nordy Club loyalty program members. Customers shopping online can receive items to then try-on at that specific location. When physically approaching the store, customers receive an app notification giving them precise information on the location of their reserved item.

How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about helping you build innovative integrations and experiences. TheCurrent is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns Editor's pick product social media

International Women’s Day: the brands celebrating and empowering females

Barbie Sheroes
Barbie Sheroes

Brands and retailers are celebrating and empowering women in multiple ways, from product to advertising, this International Women’s Day.

As the #MeToo movement shifts its focus beyond Hollywood to multiple other industries and fields, 2018 is a particularly pertinent time for this conversation. Here, we highlight some of the best brand activations that tap into topics of female empowerment and gender equality.

Celebrating Females

Celebration is a big focus this year, with the likes of Mattel leading the way. It continues to push both its product lines and messaging as tools of empowerment to little girls with the launch of its Sheroes Barbie range, which celebrates pioneering women in history. Dolls include British boxer Nicola Adams, Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and American pilot Amelia Earhart.

In a more literal way, Johnny Walker has introduced a female figure – called Jane Walker – to its famous bottles, while beer marker BrewDog has launched a satirically pink beer bottle.

Net-a-Porter
Net-a-Porter

Charitable Collaborations

The need to align with consumer causes such as empowerment is reflected in the multitude of exclusive collaborations whose launches coincide with this year’s IWD too.

Soap & Glory, as well as the designer Rebecca Taylor, have chosen to show their support for the campaign “She Should Run”, encouraging females to run for political offices. While the beauty brand is raising money through social media, Taylor is taking the more direct step of pledging 10% of all online store proceeds on Thursday March 8 to the charity.

Female education on the other hand has taken priority for a range of companies, including Lancôme, who has partnered with CARE, a non-profit organisation to launch the campaign #WriteHerFuture, to end female illiteracy. Likewise online retailer Gilt wants to “close the gender gap in technology” and aims to give 100% of net profits to the “Girls Who Code” initiative.

Meanwhile Net-a-Porter has collaborated with a series of designers such as Ganni, Zadig & Voltaire and Temperley, to launch capsule collections to support charities that ensure women in need of better health and safety are protected.

Empowering Messages

Empowerment is otherwise front and center. To celebrate the accomplishments of female athletes and to support the company’s belief “in the inspirational power of sport to break down barriers”, for instance, Nike Women has launched a new campaign starring Serena Williams.

Meanwhile, direct-to-consumer label ADAY has taken to Instagram to share a range of exclusive postcards showcasing its feelings on female empowerment. Users are able to purchase the postcards, with the option to pre-address them to their local senator.

The iconic suffragettes are also receiving a nod, as previously referenced at this season’s NYFW with designer Jonathan Simkhai’s collection. This time, British department store Liberty is paying homage to the historical movement by showcasing photographs by Mary McCartney, who captured eight inspirational women to celebrate.

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data e-commerce Editor's pick Podcast Retail

Yoox Net-a-Porter on nailing the basics of e-commerce

TheCurrent's Rachel Arthur and Yoox Net-a-Porter's Paolo Mascio recording TheCurrent Innovators podcast - e-commerce
TheCurrent Innovators: Paolo Mascio with Rachel Arthur

There’s little point in looking at all of the innovation surrounding e-commerce today, if you don’t first have the basics in place, Paolo Mascio president of online flagships at Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, explains on the most recent episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

“If you can’t get the fundamentals right, forget about artificial intelligence,” he says. “Really, execution is the key word. It’s very easy to mess up with your customers… A bad customer experience is even worse than not giving [them] an experience at all. It’s better not to open Russia or China if you can’t serve them in the proper way. Discontent spreads… which is setting the base for a failure in the future as well.”

Both Yoox and Net-a-Porter are businesses known for their innovative approaches to e-commerce – the former for supporting brands on running their own operations, and the latter for its first-rate customer experience. While together they’re focused on maintaining their market leading position, many of their partners and clients by comparison represent an industry still getting to grips with how to handle multichannel commerce.

Mascio references the shift to convenience, or of frictionless customer experiences in an omnichannel world, as the foundation of e-commerce expectations today. But it’s service, he says, that can be the key point of differentiation for brands – especially those in the luxury space – comparative to multi brand retailers.

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Underneath that, what’s driving brand growth and loyalty today, is data, he notes. “Data is one of the fundamental things around which, not only our company, but the brands themselves are going to build their future.”

This is the big shift still taking place in luxury, he adds. “Most brands up to a few years ago thought they were all unique, now they’re all struggling to distinguish themselves in the digital space.”

“For decades the brands have built their success around their collections, around the designers’ names, and the designers’ abilities, around advertising, but they haven’t tracked down what the customer’s behavior was,” he explains, noting that today, it’s the customer that has the biggest voice.

Those who can understand their customer and use analytics to better serve them, are the ones who will win. On top of that, and only then, comes the next step forward, he explains. Personalization, for instance, is something Mascio is watching closely. Artificial intelligence (Yoox Net-a-Porter is working with IBM Watson), is going to be the facilitator that transforms how people shops for the very reason it enables the brand to manage customers on a one-to-one basis at scale, he says.

In terms of the user interface, another area he’s keeping an eye on, is that of voice technology. “I believe voice controlled systems [will] play quite a fundamental role in the future,” he says. “It will take time… but then there will be a need for a brand to evolve their interfaces, so that customers can use voice to search for products in a much easier way.”

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Comment Editor's pick social media technology

Comment Counts: How the beauty industry is trailblazing in digital

Brands should take note of how the beauty industry uses the power of digital and all its tools to enhance the customer experience, says Bia Bezamat of GDR Creative Intelligence. 

Urban Decay's Snapchat campaign
Urban Decay’s Snapchat campaign

Earlier this summer, Snapchat surpassed Twitter in its number of active daily users in the US (150 million). It’s also started to experience a shift in demographics, with older millennials starting to play catch up on the app with their stereotypically younger counterparts. In fact, the number of Snapchat users aged 25 and up is increasing twice as fast as the number of users under 25.

From a branding perspective, what also works is engagement – the typical sponsored lens (the augmented reality filters Snapchat has become increasingly known for), are used on average for 20 seconds.

All of that combined, and beauty brands have particularly been taking note. Looking to raise awareness and build new audiences, companies such as Urban Decay, Benefit and L’Oréal have recently launched their own lenses on the social app and, for 24 hours, reached a potential public of up to 100 million.

For Benefit, the biggest ROI in numbers wasn’t sales conversion, but rather usage and shares. As Nicole Frusci, vice president and digital marketing at the brand, told WWD: “We noticed there was a huge amount of usage from consumers to beauty influencers to other partners of ours. We saw a huge spike in the cross-sharing on other channels that was greater than we expected.”

In another creative application, beauty subscription retailer Birchbox recently invited followers to use Snapchat’s call feature to speak to its customer service agents.

Digital beauty Sephora
Sephora’s Pocket Contour app

The way these companies are using Snapchat is indicative of how beauty brands are putting their customers’ digital behaviours at the core of education, product discovery and experimentation. As digital has evolved, the always-on millennial beauty audience has grown accustomed to responding to visual, engaging digital content. This has been driven by the popularity of beauty vloggers, from grassroots names like Zoella to professional make-up artists including Lisa Eldridge and Charlotte Tilbury.

In 2015, leveraging the popularity of the contouring trend, partly thanks to the Kardashian clan, Sephora teamed up with beauty firm Map My Beauty to launch Pocket Contour, a mobile app that teaches customers how to master the sculpting look. Explaining the approach of hand-holding customers once they leave the store, Bridget Dolan, Sephora’s Innovation Lab VP, told USA Today: “We don’t want them to go home and throw the product in a drawer because the consumer can’t remember how the beauty adviser applied it.”

She added that women can buy the wrong foundation up to seven times before finding the correct shade for their skin. Teaching them how to buy and use the correct product first time around, helps avoid customer dissatisfaction, she explained.

Sephora’s strategy in the digital space is clearly rooted in insight about how its customers behave and what barriers might be stopping them from experimenting with new make-up. The brand has also recently launched the Beauty Uncomplicator online, which helps narrow down its extensive merchandise using a Mad Libs-style questionnaire, where users have to fill in blanks. By promoting interactivity, Sephora is trying to create “really fun, addictive shopping experiences”, according to Deborah Yeh, SVP of marketing and brand.

Shazam for beauty - digital beauty
Rimmel’s new Get the Look app enables users to virtually try-on other people’s make-up styles

Being fun is also key to how the beauty industry is approaching digital. This is particularly important for luxury beauty brands, who are notoriously less adventurous in the physical sphere in order to protect brand equity. Digital gives them room to play and to be experimental, which is perfectly exemplified by Burberry bringing its beauty license back in-house in 2012. When luring the millennial customer into buying an affordable piece from the label, quirky campaigns like Burberry Kisses from 2013, show flexible brand image, with a digital sensibility that matches its younger target audience.

And as brands play with digital platforms, from established social media apps, like John Frieda’s recent Instagram campaign, to the sci-fi world of bots (another Sephora initiative), there is one clear go-to tech when it comes to getting the best of both work and play: augmented reality. Spearheaded by industry leaders such as Modiface and Holition, AR bridges the gap between the experience of trialling a physical product in-store and doing so on your smartphone.

Brands ranging as far and wide as L’Oréal, Lancôme and Covergirl have taken on the technology to help customers virtually try on make-up (mimicking that Snapchat user behaviour), while Rimmel has employed it to allow users to ‘nab’ the look of others. Modiface even has a new chatbot that brings virtual lipstick try-ons to Facebook Messenger.

Max Factor meanwhile is using it to enhance access to content in-store; recently announcing a partnership with augmented reality app Blippar that allows customers to scan more than 500 of its individual products to see additional information, from peer reviews to before-and-after pictures.

Digital and tech are most successful when they enhance – and not replace – the shopping experience. Customers will only interact when they are willing, so getting the basics right first, such as customer-focused product categories, is essential. And the message from the beauty industry is clear: use digital as a tool to help customers navigate choice and facilitate trial and error. Make it ‘sticky’ and you will become their brand of choice.

Digital beauty Max Factor
Max Factor’s augmented reality app

Bia Bezamat is an innovation consultant at retail trends consultancy GDR Creative IntelligenceComment Counts is a series of opinion pieces from experts within the industry. Do you have something to say? Get in touch via info@fashionandmash.com.

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e-commerce mobile social media

Shoppable Snapchat? Popsugar launches workaround e-commerce tool

Emoticode
Popsugar’s Emoticode links on Snapchat make it shoppable

Popsugar has found a way to make Snapchat shoppable, introducing a companion app that enables users to screenshot what they want to buy.

Emoticode, as it’s called, allows brands and bloggers to convert URLs into shortened links that feature emojis in the first two characters. They can then include those in their Snapchat stories, or indeed their Instagram posts. Once someone screenshots them and opens the resulting image back in the Emoticode app it decodes them into clickable links once more.

Like some of the existing third-party social shopping apps for Instagram already out there, it’s somewhat of a clunky process, but it’s a workable one at this stage.

Popsugar, does of course also own e-commerce site ShopStyle, which acts as the foundation for bloggers to use these emoticodes to monetise their social posts. The business model is therefore an affiliate one – Popsugar will take 15% of each sale that occurs. Launch brands also include Uniqlo, Nordstrom and Sephora.

“It was clear that people wanted to take action from our snaps and it wasn’t as easy as it could be. The lightbulb went off,” PopSugar’s CEO, Brian Sugar, told Digiday. “It works for shopping. It will work for recipes, workouts, articles, really anything you want to engage more with beyond a snap or an Instagram post.

Businesses using the emoticodes will also be able to measure ROI – monitoring clicks, orders, revenue and conversion rate. The codes can also be used on the ShopStyle and ShopStyle Collective apps and so far in the US, UK, Australia, Germany and France.

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business data e-commerce Editor's pick mobile social media

10 things fashion retailers need to know from Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends report

Internet Trends Mary Meeker
Mary Meeker delivering her 2016 Internet Trends report

If there’s one place to get a good overview of shifting digital consumption habits, it’s from Mary Meeker, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers’, annual Internet Trends report. To save you having to trawl through the 200+ slides from the 2016 release, here are a handful of need-to-know insights for those in the fashion and retail space:

1. Visual platforms continue to win, particularly for those in the Millennial generation (aged circa 18-34 years old today). Leading platforms in terms of both engagement and reach include Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

1.MaryMeeker_socialnetworks

2. This is even more the case with Generation Z, who communicate via visuals far more so than text. They also operate more screens than their Millennial counterparts at once (five versus two), and tend to be creators and collaborators over curators and sharers.

2.MaryMeeker_GenZ

3. This visual playground is Snapchat’s world, and everyone else is just living in it. Snapchat has nailed how to host visual content in an advertising sense that works because it’s authentic, entertaining, in context and often brief, said Meeker. As a result, it now sees users playing with things like its sponsored lenses for an average of 20 seconds at a time.

3.MaryMeeker_snapchatlenses

4. Let’s not forget, when we’re talking about visual content, video plays a massive role. Its usage, sophistication and relevancy continues to grow rapidly, explained Meeker. Facebook now sees 8bn video views per day, while Snapchat is getting 10bn.

4.MaryMeeker_videoviews

5. Live video is also becoming more important. Over the past century we’ve moved from live linear viewing on the TV to on-demand streaming, to semi-live content like that of Snapchat Stories in and around 2013, to today’s “real-live” feeds via the likes of Periscope and Facebook Live. Meeker referred to the recent Chewbacca Facebook Live video, which referenced retailer Kohl’s, as “user generated content at whole new orders of viewing magnitude”. Kohl’s not only sold out of the Star Wars mask at the centre of the video, but became the leading app in the iOS app store in the US.

5.MaryMeeker_livevideo

6. Getting video right – being authentic, creative and valued through your content – is key by the way because ad blocking is also majorly on the rise. Today, 93% of internet users have or will consider using ad blocking software, according to Unruly. This software is especially a big deal in China, India and Indonesia, and around the world 420m users are now using it, which is a rise of 94% year-on-year. “If there has ever been a call to arms to create better ads, this is it,” said Meeker.

6.MaryMeeker_adblocking

7. The role of messaging apps is also growing and especially relevant for retail businesses. The secret sauce is the magic of the thread – it’s conversational, it remembers identity, time, specifics, preferences and context. Using such platforms is a boon to customer satisfaction, Meeker added, explaining that it’s also leading, of course, to commerce.

7.MaryMeeker_conversationalcommerce

8. Brands emerging in the retail space (and playing with all the aforementioned tools) are being heavily impacted and influenced by the Millennial generation, Meeker explained, with the below chart showing the sorts of companies founded by decade over the past 100+ years. Today, internet-enabled retailers, products and brands are significantly on the rise, bolstered by always-on connectivity, hyper-targeted marketing, the role of images and personalisation. StitchFix is a great example of this, said Meeker, for the fact it brings Spotify and Netflix-like discovery to fashion, with each customer getting a differentiated experience thanks to its advanced algorithm.

8.MaryMeeker_retailchanges

9. All of this also means there are numerous internet brands that have managed to reach $100m in annual sales within five years (including the likes of Birchbox, Everlane, Rent the Runway, Bonobos, Nasty Gal and more), compared to Nike, which took 14 years, Lululemon, which took nine years and Under Armour, which took eight years. “It’s fast and it’s impressive,” said Meeker.

9.MaryMeeker_internetbrands

10. Lastly, when it comes to customer service, no surprises here: social media and instant chat is preferred by Millennials than the telephone is.

10.MaryMeeker_businesscontact

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e-commerce film mobile

Brands need to take greater advantage of the desire for how-to content says Google

How-to content on YouTube is increasingly in demand, according to new research from Google. Searches for topics ranging from the practical (how-to tie a tie), to the creative (how to draw), from style (how to curl your hair with a hair straightener) to cuisine (how to make a cake), are growing 70% year over year, with 100m hours of how-to videos viewed in North America so far in 2015.

The growth is being attributed to mobile technology, with 91% of smartphone users saying they now turn to their phones for ideas while doing a task. Categories trending the most include beauty, home improvement and cooking.

hair_howto

“Being constantly connected has trained us to expect immediacy and relevance in moments of intent—the I-want-to-know, I-want-to-go, I-want-to-do, and I-want-to-buy moments. These micro-moments are the new battlegrounds for people’s hearts, minds, and dollars,” writes David Mogensen on the Think with Google site.

The team is pushing the idea that marketers are too heavily focused on one-way traditional media planned against brand moments and anchored to campaign flights, rather than thinking about and preparing for these personal moments. In doing so they’re missing out on potential for conversion too – data shows with millennials specifically, one in three say they’ve purchased a product as a result of watching a how-to video.

MAC Cosmetics has particularly focused on this how-to content as a means of driving sales in local markets. It partnered with Google on a YouTube gadget in 2014 to allow viewers to shop directly from its “Instant Artistry” video series on its local e-commerce sites. “A user watching our videos in Brazil will engage with a version of the gadget that is entirely in Portuguese and will be driven directly to the Brazilian MAC Cosmetics site to purchase. We have seen fantastic engagement as well as incremental sales on e-commerce that far exceeded our expectations,” says Noelle Sadler, VP of global consumer engagement at the company.

Google’s how-to for marketers

Here are some of the best practices Google suggests in approaching a content strategy built around ‘I-want-to-do moments’:

  • Identify the I-want-to-do moments in which consumers have a need and your brand can play a role. Find these moments across the entire consumer journey and put them at the center of your strategy.
  • What are the questions and concerns people have related to the types of products you sell or the types of projects they are used for? What do people want to learn about them? (Tools such as Google Trends and Google Consumer Surveys can help answer these questions.) Create I-want-to-do content for your website and YouTube channel to serve as resources for them.
  • Look at when how-to searches occur. Are there particular times of day, week, or year when some topics are more popular?
  • Make your videos easy to find by adding descriptive titles, details, and relevant tags to each video. You can also promote your content by TrueView in-stream and in-display, and you can reach the right viewers through affinity, in-market, and topic targeting.
  • Did you reach your audiences? Did they pay attention? What implications did it have on their perceptions and actions? Measurement solutions, such as Google’s Brand Lift, can help answer these questions.
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digital snippets e-commerce film social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Farfetch acquires Browns, Net-a-Porter launches social network, Warby Parker raises $100m

A round-up of the latest stories to know about surrounding all things fashion and tech…

thenetset

  • Browns acquired by Farfetch as part of omnichannel growth strategy [BoF]
  • Fashion retailer Net-a-Porter’s new social network wants to combine your photo-sharing and shopping in one app (as pictured) [Quartz]
  • Warby Parker raises $100m to expand store network, technology [Fashionista]
  • The Rodarte designers are making a movie [The Cut]
  • Toms wants you to Instagram your bare feet for charity [Fashionista]
  • The future of retail looks like Macy’s, not Amazon [L2]
  • Infographic: wearable tech at the intersection of function and fashion [AdWeek]
  • How 3-D printing is saving the Italian artisan [Bloomberg]
  • Could 3-D body scanners help you find the perfect pair of jeans? [AdWeek]
  • Launching a fashion Kickstarter? Consider this [Medium]
  • V-Files relaunches as trendy start-up determined to become the shoppable Instagram [Business Insider]
  • With big names and money flowing in, tech start-ups in India heat up [NY Times]