Target has developed a secret app with an interface that closely resembles that of Instagram to gather insights into the minds of its customers.
According to the retailer, the app’s main purpose is to gather feedback on product development, with an aim to drive better product selection and faster turnaround of stock to give the company a competitive advantage in the fast-paced retail space. Users can like and comment on pictures, much like a social media feed.
A designer asking for possible mothers-day catchphrases on a t-shirt, receives an average of 40-50 user responses in 24 hours. Furthermore, after an average of 10 hours the design team can already gather common themes and start to incorporate the feedback into its product development, reportedly.
Studio Connect, as the app is called, was first developed back in 2016, but is only accessible through a direct invitation by Target. It never has more than 600 members. Participants are selected by Target through evaluating online survey answers and check out feedback forms, after which they are then categorized into relevant marketing segments (such as if they having children in the household or not). This information is then also used to help the retailer analyze consumer patterns and understand more about its customers’ behavior.
Target offers no monetary awards, although users can gather points that can be used for discounts and special offers.
The app has also been used as a crowdsourcing tool, with children encouraged to take part in a design contest and upload drawings of designs. Target’s creative team then found that many children were drawing a similar color pattern, which they then printed on a pair of leggings.
It has also helped the retailer to offer more inclusive clothing by gathering feedback by parents with disabled children, which resulted in the launch of a completely new clothing line.
K-beauty brand Glow Recipe is aiming to help its fans keep up their beauty routines even when on-the-go with the introduction of a transparent sheet mask.
The launch is accompanied by a social media campaign that encourages consumers to ‘break boundaries’ when it comes to their skincare rituals by doing face masks in public and using the #maskseverywhere and #youjelly hashtags.
The mask is an extension of the brand’s popular Watermelon Glow formulation, whose original product, the Watermelon Glow Sleep Mask, propelled the brand into cult status. The cosmetics brand worked with a lab in Korea to ‘gelify’ watermelon extract that gives the product the transparent texture that helps lock-in moisture and looks almost imperceptible on the skin.
Co-founders and co-CEOs Christine Chang and Sarah Lee said to online publication Fashionista: “We know that not all our customers can be as shameless to sheet mask in the back of an Uber, so we wanted to create a beautiful, selfie-ready invisible sheet mask that provides the effects of ‘glass skin,’ which hopefully sparks this movement of sheet masking whenever you need that quick skin-fix, even if you’re en route to a first date.”
They explain that their hope is for the new product to allow more people to take the leap and self-care in public.
Beauty brands are often at the forefront of creating innovations that respond to new consumer mindsets and demands around convenience and efficacy. The industry is particularly making strides in developing products that adapt to a busy woman’s lifestyle and their need for on-the-go formats that don’t compromise on results.
For more on how the beauty industry is listening closely to its consumers and driving meaningful innovation accordingly, listen to our latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast with beauty device brand Foreo’s CEO, Paul Peros.
The idea of humans as contradictory beings isn’t a new one, but social media is making such personal dichotomies more evident than ever before, even in life’s happiest moments, according to a new report launched by off-price luxury e-commerce site, The Outnet.
Written in partnership with audience intelligence platform, Pulsar, the study analysed 33 million posts related to the way in which consumers share moments of “joy” and “thrill” worldwide across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during May 2016.
Central to the findings is the idea that consumers are indeed extremely fickle. We celebrate uniqueness for instance, but we seek to be part of a tribe. We’re less concerned about material wealth, but what we wear and how we display it is more important than ever in our images. And we’re eagerly searching for time to disconnect, but we continue to capture those rare moments by digital means.
None of that may sound at all surprising, but the depth of the study provides some valuable lessons for businesses playing in the content marketing space and looking to figure out what motivations lie behind consumer behaviour today.
The perfect example lies in the selfie – one third of all photos in the study included a person or people in them. Rather than being solely about personal image or a means to draw attention to the creator, however, the report suggests these portraits are increasingly leaning towards supporting individuals’ growth and development.
Social media has long been a place for users to curate and edit the best versions of themselves, but the focus of that is moving to being primarily about positive steps to self-improvement and the achievement of one’s goals.
In fact, personal growth as a theme was the number one driver of discussions around joy and thrill globally (49%) in the study, which maps to broader evolving consumer trends currently in existence. Wellbeing and mindfulness have moved the topic of health, for instance, beyond a conversation surrounding just diet and exercise, to entire mental and physical lifestyle choices, which are in turn impacting businesses at every level.
This makes personal growth as a whole a really interesting one for companies to consider in terms of the way they speak to consumers – it’s not only about selling products to them anymore, but ideas and emotions that will both fit with and help fulfill such lifestyles. Brands should be thinking about how to help consumers feel more empowered, and to provide them with a service that improves their lives.
As Andres Sosa, EVP of The Outnet, said: “Having these results available for the business will be a key focus point in helping to drive our communication strategy forward. We can create touch points in relation to these moments, ensuring what we offer as a brand truly replicates and resonates with [them].”
The same goes for the way in which consumers look at the idea of belonging (referenced in 31% of posts globally). There’s desire to find joy in solidarity with others, even with the individuality that so anchors social media otherwise.
The digital era has brought about a quest for uniqueness as well as the idea of existing as part of a tribe. Businesses today should therefore be thinking about offering greater personalisation than ever, but ensuring their fans and followers feel a part of their community alongside.
The final trend in the study surrounds the idea of joy and thrill as it relates to experiences and discovery (16% of posts). Consumers are not only travelling more than any other time in history, but valuing such adventure in order to have greater things to share on social media. We’ve shifted to a time of less conspicuous consumption and instead happiness in discovering and capturing the everyday beauty of the world.
This directly relates to the fact that shoppers are valuing experiences over material wealth to a greater extent than ever before. According to the Boston Consulting Group , 55% of all luxury spend today is on luxury experiences, and that number rapidly scales when looking at the millennials market specifically. This is about being able to say “I did this” rather than “I bought this”.
Again, it’s crucial for businesses to respond to these changing motivations to best serve their customers – to think about experiences and that broader lifestyle piece as a part of their brand in the same way they curate their product proposition.
The Outnet, which is part of the Yoox Net-a-Porter Group, focused on thrill and joy as the foundation of the study to relate to its recently launched #TheThrillOfTheFind social campaign and its “Everything Reduced But The Thrill” tagline. Overall, the results serve as a positive outline of seemingly incongruous trends to consider for content strategy, but in a broader sense, they’re also a unified reminder that consumers today seek meaningful relationships and not just transactions.
Disclaimer: The author Rachel Arthur served as a consultant and contributor to this study on behalf of The Outnet.
It goes without saying that mobile is set to play an ever-increasing role in the future of retail – be it for payment, loyalty and rewards, social content or more.
Enter then, Tapestry, a new start-up from the team behind London-based digital agency Guided Collective, that very nicely ties all those things together.
Launched in a pilot partnership with Diesel in the UK, this iPhone and Android app helps to provide shoppers with a 360 degree online-meets-offline experience.
Trialling at Diesel’s Westfield London store until December 21, it allows consumers to curate a collection of all the items they like as they shop by scanning existing barcodes (or by using NFC in enabled Android devices). From there, they can see information about each piece such as size, colour and price, as well as the digital content that surrounds it – expert reviews from bloggers for instance, alongside videos, runway shows and more.
In essence, it’s a physical or real-world bookmarking tool for the fashion industry.
Those bookmark sets – known as Tapestries of course – can then be shared across social networks, but better yet be bought straight from the smartphone too. There’s also the possibility for notifications on things like promotions and rewards.
Referring to itself as a mobile loyalty service, the Tapestry write-up reads: “On the one hand it links content and promotions directly to physical products via a consumer’s mobile. On the other hand it links all physical items in store to the retailer’s ecommerce site, re-shaping the retail experience both in and out of store.”
Simply put, it gives a retailer’s physical inventory a digital identity, something Sam Reid, founder of Tapestry, refers to as “joining up the dots”. Based on a cloud platform, it also does so simply and at scale, he explains. And the app is to be funded on that basis, with retailers paying a subscription fee for the service.
In addition, it gives retailers permission-based real-time access to consumer interests, and therefore data. “The user is saying ‘I’m interested in these shoes, this t-shirt and this dress. Let me know when they’re on sale, or if stock is close to selling out, or if you’ve some interesting content to share,” the Tapestry description explains.
It’s hoped more retailers will follow in Diesel’s footsteps, says Reid, suggesting others are already in talks. This makes the concept all-the-more interesting – rather than just being about one brand’s clothing items consumers might save and explore, it becomes about their entire shopping trip. Imagine being able to recall everything you’ve seen, read reviews around them, and pick and choose which ones you want to buy at a later date. It’d certainly simplify those occasions when you regret something you should have purchased and you can’t find it online.
Another interesting part for the future will be seeing this app develop alongside NFC. With this, consumers only need to tap items (hence the clever Tapestry name) to bring them up on their phone – effortless. As this technology becomes more commonplace across devices, that behaviour is likely to see a huge spike in uptake in the retail space, blurring the digital and physical lines ever more.
Forewillow*, a new Ohio-based ‘re-commerce’ start-up, has just released an infographic about millennial shoppers that’s sprinkled with some interesting facts. It outlines that 28.5% of the US population, or those classified as millennials (born from the early 80s to early 00s), will have more buying power than any other generation by 2017.
It also suggests they are 16% more likely to explore brands online than non-millennials (top clothing labels include Forever 21, H&M, Gap, Levi’s, Express and Nike), and that 64% of them want brands to offer them more ways to share their opinions online.
Already, 60% of them spend time creating user-generated content such as reviews, compared to just 29% in other generations. And 42% of them say they’ll share positive and negative feedback via social media channels before going directly to the company themselves.
See the whole thing, below…
*Forewillow invites users to sell bundles of clothes to others who share their size and style – doing so enables them to earn virtual currency to buy their own bundles from someone else. It aims to target millennials who are “fashion conscious but not designer obsessed”, and help them “live in today’s ‘one and done’ fashion mindset without breaking the bank”. Find out more here.
I was lucky enough while I was there to spend a few extra days immersing myself in everything to do with how the fashion / retail industry operates – meeting with everyone from ad agencies and local brand owners, to publishers, editors, bloggers and sales assistants. I was blown away.
Here’s an attempt at summarising everything I learnt:
Rising middle class and growth of luxury brands
Brazil has a rising middle class. There are currently 100m people considered in this category, up from 50m less than five years ago. By 2014, Carlos Jereissati, CEO of Iguatemi, says there will be 120m, or 60% of the population. That’s a lot of growth.
That and the fact the country has a new sense of economic stability – 7.5% growth in 2010 – remaining relatively unscathed while Europe and the US have weakened in the global crisis, means the luxury industry is thriving here. And the country’s presence on the global stage is only set to increase further as the eyes of the world turn to it in 2014 and 2016 for the FIFA World Cup and Olympics respectively.
Having said that, São Paulo is the first major city I’ve been to in the world where I don’t recognise most of the stores along the street. In fact, in the malls – where most of the true luxury sits – only 25% of the space currently belongs to international brands. Local designers still rule the roost. But although local consumers are rightfully very attached to that fact, they’re also pushing for more and more of the fashion world on their doorstep.
Next year will see two new shopping centres: one from JHFS, Cidade’s Jardim group, and another from Iguatemi, the JK mall. International stores are headed out in droves to the latter including: Lanvin, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, not to mention the first Topshop Brazil.
A couple of other specific cases: Gucci is planning to have 25 stores in Latin America by the end of 2012. Diane von Furstenberg’s store in São Paulo’s Iguatemi mall is her second most successful in the world, after New York. Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen had never before been to Brazil but held meetings while in town for the conference to discuss opening a store there soon. Coach will open its first store in Brazil in the new JK mall next spring, but has plans to quickly increase to up to seven stores. CEO Lew Frankfort says he estimates the market to be worth up to $350m per year to them.
Complicated and expensive
It’s a highly complex market though. There isn’t a culture of multi-brand stores, for instance, the result of sky-high import taxes restricting a regular wholesale model. Most designers entering the market therefore have to do so by opening own-brand stores. Needless to say, that’s quite a risk in what could still be referred to as unknown territory.
With those import taxes through the roof, everything in Brazil is expensive, not least the fashion. But people still buy. There is an overwhelming desire for access to international labels no matter what the price is. Some stores, like Zara, are getting round this however by also producing in the country. There’s likely to become more of this, although it’s currently the exception rather than the rule.
An interesting fact: shoppers in Brazil buy on credit; deferred payments in two to three installments is absolutely the norm. According to a few people I spoke to, it provides a false sense of security – they don’t see what they’ve bought as the total price, but rather as the individual installment prices.
Lacking fast fashion but digitally savvy
In amongst all this new luxury, fast fashion as we know it doesn’t really exist. One couple I spoke to – admittedly both of whom work in the industry and both of whom travel often – buy when they’re abroad. They raid Topshop and H&M and otherwise only spend occasionally when they’re in Brazil. When they do, it’s inevitably on expensive items, but they see these as likely to last. Investment pieces.
Local stores such as Marisa, who are turning to this faster fashion route, feel it is necessary to educate the middle class consumer they’re targeting. These shoppers are not used to buying ‘fashion’ nor are they used to thinking about ‘trends’, the store’s ad agency explained to me. A heavy proportion of marketing therefore is based around advice, hints and tips.
The only thing fast about fashion in Brazil is the response seen when actors in the infamous soap operas wear items or bloggers post about them. Where they go, the market follows. Simple.
Given this is a digital blog, it’s also worth noting this is one of the most digitally savvy consumer markets there is. Period. In fact, I’ve never seen such obsessions with Twitter, Foursquare and Facebook (or local site Orkut).
One in three Brazilians is currently online, and they spend an average of nine hours connected, said Jessica Michault, online style editor of the International Herald Tribune. Real growth is set to follow however as the internet infrastructure improves – things are currently being put in place on a national scale to enable widespread broadband access for instance.
E-commerce versus service
What’s interesting though, is the complete lack of e-commerce acceptance there is in the marketplace so far. Why? In the main part, because of customer service. I have never seen anything like it – not only do the shop assistants actually speak nicely to you, but everyone is treated like a VIP. Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the IHT, told a great story at the conference about Tom Ford saying his role model for service in opening his first New York store was Brazil’s most upmarket one, Daslu.
On top of the service aspect however, consumers in Brazil are used to shopping as a truly social experience. Friends hit the mall in groups, and they continue it back at home, trying on outfits, sharing with others and getting ready en masse ahead of a night out. The interesting thing is, this isn’t restricted to a teenage activity; women of all ages reportedly partake.
Combining this service and social aspect means two things then: brands coming into this market will really have to up their game (it’ll be interesting to see what Topshop does), but so too will the e-commerce experience need to evolve to get this consumer truly on board. Thinking bigger picture, you could say e-commerce is likely to follow once some marrying between service, bloggers and fast-fashion occurs. There’s definitely business opportunity there.
My favourite quote from IHT, came from Diane von Furstenburg. She said: “If Brazilians could put their joie de vivre in a bottle, it would be bigger than Coca-Cola’s”. Just about says it all, not to mention summarises my trip.
On a truly final note, if you haven’t checked out the local activation of Puma’s After Hours campaign in São Paulo, you should. Run by the team behind by the Brazilian edition of Vice magazine and its counterpart agency Virtue, it’s a brilliant example of turning global creative into experiences specifically relevant to the market at hand. It did so with a variety of events throughout the year that transformed regular nightclubs into old fashioned social clubs; offering games and sports such as table tennis, snooker, darts and more. The outcome was so successful, it opened its own fully operational bar for three months. If you’re visiting, be sure to stop by, it’s there until December 23, 2011.
Enormous thanks to my incredible friend, and tour guide, @carolalt
Amid a wealth of discussion on online community building at the second day of the Social Media World Forum (#smwf) in London today, it was particularly interesting to hear of the strategy being run by UK high street retailer New Look.
Oliver Lucas, head of consumer insight and CRM, explained how despite being a mass market store, New Look operates a “closed community”, called myLook (launched 2009), whereby fans have to apply to be a member.
Doing so, he said, enables the company to get the most from its ‘fans’. Creating this barrier to entry makes consumers feel like there’s something special behind those doors, therefore they become more eager to be there and more willing to actively participate when they are, he explained.
Accordingly, the official spiel on the myLook intro site reads: “At New Look we believe that fashion should be enjoyed by everyone and to help us ensure that everything we do is designed for you, we are inviting those who think they have a real passion for fashion to apply to be a member of this very special community of likeminded people.”
It continues: “Inside you will be able to share your views, suggest improvements, connect directly with New Look and the community and tell us what’s right and wrong in the world of fashion and have a genuine visible effect on the high street.”
That latter part,the “geniune visible effect”, Lucas also picked up on, saying the idea of maintaining a closed community is to make those involved feel more empowered. “If there’s 150,000 members, could I really make a difference?” he asked. Opting for a smaller number instead, he said, encourages engagement.
Participants are selected based on two criteria – whether they fit into the segmentation the retailer is trying to fulfill, and whether they respond to the (open) questions on application in a manner that suggests they will bring something valuable, interesting or even frequent to the equation. One word responses to the questionnaire won’t quite cut the mustard here then.
“So are they the right type of customer and how likely are they to contribute is what we consider,” Lucas explained. Roughly one in every four gets in.
We’re not trying to be exclusive, just very specific in our purpose,” he added – (you get a polite email of decline if you don’t match up).
He went on to express that despite these entry requirements, the intention of the ‘club’ is to make people feel comfortable. “Fashion can feel quite exclusive and therefore intimidating,” he said. “New Look is not about that and therefore our community is not either.”