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Cannes Lions 2018: Glossier on how digital allows for individual connections at scale


Long-established legacy brands should do away with market studies and focus groups, says Glossier president and COO Henry Davis, and instead leverage digital technology to ask questions at scale.

Speaking on stage at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, he said instead of getting a handful of consumers in a room with double-mirrors, they should be creating “pockets of intimacy” with individuals or the subgroups they exist in online.

“In 2018 you have the ability to ask questions at scale.. By changing the channel you can change the offering to suit the consumer of today. So many legacy brands have gotten lazy on these channels and just keep reproducing… We’re seeing increasingly they’re realizing they need to know their customer.”

At the crux of the direct-to-consumer beauty brand’s success, is this focus on maintaining a continuous conversation with consumers from the get-go, he explained.

Since its inception as beauty blog Into the Gloss in 2012, founder Emily Weiss tapped into a fanbase to understand what elements would make a dream product – from consistency to color range. This helped inform the launch of Glossier and its first batch of cult products. It then quickly catapulted the brand as the one to watch among the Gen Z generation.

That collaborative nature now seeps into every consumer-facing aspect of the brand, from how well one of its products photographs, to what influencers it features on its popular Instagram feed, Davis explained.

Inspiration for new products or campaigns always come from an amalgamation of channels and references, but one of the first questions the brand asks itself, is: “If this was an Instagram post, what would the comments on it be?”

Content, Davis believes, should always ask a question, thus creating a “beautiful virtuous circle” to engage people with. The brand even does traditional outdoor advertising for that reason. The analog nature of a billboard, he explains, works perfectly for the brand because it targets younger consumers who themselves are content creators. Putting a billboard up is not the end of the project, but the beginning of a conversation – it allows fans to share it in their own way, he added.

Such is the importance of content – beyond the long-standing popularity of Into the Gloss and its Instagram page – that David said the next step is to vertically integrate the funnel of communications, which is currently owned by social media companies.

The only way to build a brand, he said, is to take it one step further and own more of the customer journey. Ultimately, he feels, the stronger the relationship, the stronger the loyalty. “Customers need to be stakeholders, they need to be a part of the creating of the product and eventually, sales,” he noted.

During the conversation, Davis also talked about how being a direct-to-consumer brand allows for the R&D team to work at its own pace, without the pressures or constraints of being rushed by a retail partner. This has the immense benefit of enabling the company to be more creative and make decisions based solely on the customer, he expained.

It is with that mindset that the brand has also opened its first retail store in Los Angeles, where a third of the space is dedicate to the “Canyon” room, an experiential space that replicates Arizona’s Antelope Canyon, complete with desert sounds that customers can immerse themselves in. This goes against the long-established brick-and-mortar rule of products per square footage but, as Davis said: “By not trying to sell things, you end up selling things.”

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L.L.Bean exploring blockchain solution for consumer feedback


Outdoor retailer L.L.Bean is exploring the use of blockchain technology with smart fabrics company Loomia, to get better product insights about customer use.

The initiative will see Loomia’s Electronic Layer (LEL) incorporated into merchandise such as jackets and boots. L.L.Bean will then research using it to collect data including information around temperature, motion and frequency of wear.

Once this data is collected, consumers will be able to optionally share it back with the brand for rewards via the Loomia Tile – a component that allows for the secure and anonymous transfer of data through the blockchain, as previously reported.

The aim is to solve the fundamental problem for brands of not knowing how products are actually used or how they perform once they leave the store. The resulting insight should allow L.L.Bean to create even better quality products that more accurately align with consumer habits.

“Working with LOOMIA will enable L.L.Bean to continue it’s 106 year-old mission of utilising the latest advancements and technologies to design durable, functionally innovative products that help to further folks’ enjoyment of the outdoors,” said Chad Leeder, L.L.Bean’s innovation specialist.

Other instant use cases of the LEL for L.L.Bean include the incorporation of heating elements into products, such as warming hikers’ toes or providing an extra layer of warmth on the coldest winter days.

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What you missed: LVMH e-commerce, Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the role of personalisation

LVMH is launching a new e-commerce site under CDO Ian Rogers
LVMH is launching a new e-commerce site under CDO Ian Rogers

A round-up of everything you might have missed in relevant fashion business, digital comms and tech industry news over the past week.

  • LVMH and the next big digital shopping experience [NY Times]
  • In Copenhagen, gearing up for a circular fashion system [BoF]
  • Surprise surprise, the fashion industry isn’t as sustainable as it should be – report [High Snobiety]
  • The heartbeat of modern marketing: Data activation and personalisation [McKinsey]
  • From farm to finished garment: Blockchain is aiding this fashion collection with transparency [Forbes]
  • How custom footwear retailer Shoes of Prey cut its delivery time to two weeks [Glossy]

  • Coach confirms acquisition of Kate Spade [The Industry]
  • American Apparel to let shoppers choose US-made clothing [Retail Dive]
  • In global retailing, does the ‘see-now, buy-now’ model really work? [Thomson Reuters]
  • Hudson’s Bay taps debt adviser amid Neiman Marcus bid challenges [Reuters]
  • How clothing brands are embracing transparency to meet the growing demand for sustainable apparel [AdWeek]

  • Tiffany & Co. takes direct aim at Trump in new ad calling for action on climate change [Business Insider]
  • The prioritisation of personalisation [Glossy]
  • What you don’t know about American millennials [BoF]

  • It’s more than Amazon: Why retail is in distress now [CNBC]
  • Amid brick-and-mortar travails, a tipping point for Amazon in apparel [NY Times]
  • What China reveals about the future of shopping [BCG]

  • Jeff Bezos: Artificial intelligence permeates Amazon’s business strategy [Retail Dive]

  • The RealReal is opening a real store in New York [TechCrunch]
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Binge shopping leads to emotional hangovers for consumers, Greenpeace study shows

The excitement of shopping doesn't last too long according to a new study by Greenpeace
The excitement of shopping doesn’t last too long, according to a new study by Greenpeace

Compulsive shopping isn’t only bad for the planet, it’s also not making consumers in Europe and Asia very happy, according to a new report from Greenpeace, released ahead of this week’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

The environmental organisation’s study shows fashion shoppers regularly overspend on new clothes, with the excitement of doing so often turning into guilt after less than a day.

In all the countries surveyed (including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy and Germany), most consumers admitted to owning more clothes than they needed, with many of them having multiple items in their wardrobes that have never been worn.

Some consumers are more affected than others – 41% of all Chinese consumers are found to be excessive or compulsive shoppers for instance, with 59% of them saying they can’t stop themselves making impulse buys even though they realise they are buying too much. A quarter of respondents in Germany, a third in Italy, 42% in Hong Kong and a staggering 46% in China admit that they often buy more clothes than they can afford.

While the average consumer buys clothes around once or twice a month, the excessive shopper rarely goes more than a week without purchasing something new. In China again, 31% said they feel empty, bored or lost when not shopping, and in Hong Kong and Taiwan, 50% of consumers revealed they sometimes hide or conceal their purchases from others out of fear of negative reactions.

Unsurprisingly, one of the big triggers is social media, with platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or WeChat in China, driving shopping mania, especially among young digitally connected consumers. Other influencing factors include celebrity endorsements, peer pressure and sales promotions.

That insight comes off the back of a study last year from McKinsey & Company, which showed that annual clothing production exceeded 100 billion for the first time in 2014. It also highlighted that consumers now keep clothing items for about half as long as they did 15 years ago, and that nearly three-fifths of all clothing produced ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year of being made.

The Greenpeace research further highlights that the majority of shoppers – ranging from 65% in Germany and Italy to 48% in China – think the excitement of buying fashion wears off after a day or less, while a third say they feel even emptier once it does so.

“Our surveys show that binge shopping is followed by an emotional hangover – made of emptiness, guilt and shame. People start to realise they are trapped in an unsatisfying cycle of cheap, disposable fashion trends and that their overconsumption does not lead to lasting happiness. This should serve as a warning to companies and advertisers that promote the current fast fashion model. Fast fashion clothing brands should radically change their business model by shifting focus away from high volume production towards quality and durability,” said Kirsten Brodde, project lead of the Detox my Fashion campaign at Greenpeace.

The campaign has committed 79 global textile brands and suppliers to ban hazardous chemicals from their supply chains by 2020. In order to protect the planet further, it is also calling for a change in the way we consume clothing.

“In today’s broken fashion system, companies spend billions of ad dollars to sell us false dreams of happiness, beauty and connection tied to shopping products. But we would be much happier if fashion labels provided clothes that are high quality, durable companions for life, and offered support for customers to care, share and repair our clothes. We and the planet deserve nothing less,” Brodde added.

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Gen Z might be driven by digital, but they still prefer the in-store experience

Lilly Pulitzer tapped Gen Z with an in-store Snapchat campaign
Lilly Pulitzer tapped Gen Z with an in-store Snapchat campaign

Over 60% of Generation Z (16- to 21-year-olds) in the US prefer to shop at physical stores, according to a new report by Euclid Analytics.

Its study revealed that digital touchpoints – such as social media, the brand’s website or even targeted emails – drive Gen Z to research and find the products they want, but then tend to push them to an in-store purchase.

With that in mind, it suggests that in order to truly engage with this mobile-first generation – one that is set to reach 2.6 billion in population by 2020 and hold an estimated $44 billion in buying power, according to the National Retail Federation – retailers must strike the right balance between personalised digital methods and compelling in-store experiences.

66% of Gen Z shoppers still like to shop in-store because they want to touch, hold and try on products before buying, it explains, while 28% want to engage with sales associates, the most of any generation.

They are often mission-based, with only 47% of surveyed liking to browse. That’s seemingly because 31% of these shoppers believe it’s hard to find items they are looking for in-store. To engage with this notoriously brand-disloyal generation, wayfinding strategies should therefore be of top priority for retailers, Euclid Analytics suggests.

As consumer expectations continue to rise, Gen Z are particularly picky when it comes to controlling their experience too, with 26% expecting retailers to offer a more personalised experience based on their shopping habits and preferences. This is the most out of all demographics – seemingly the younger they are, the more demanding, with 22% of Millennials expecting the same, followed by 17% of Gen X and 11% of Boomers.

Among all generations, discount offers remain the top reason people use their smartphones in stores (44%), while 36% state they use their phones to check information on loyalty programmes.

Picking the right social media platform to engage with this young shopper means understanding their nuanced behaviours throughout the path to purchase. 45% of Gen Z shoppers use Instagram to find new products, followed by Facebook at 40%. Once in-store, they switch to Snapchat (44%) to share the experience, followed by only 16% of Millennials who do the same. The platform switch is most likely to do with the fleeting, in-the-moment nature of Snapchat content, while geotagged brand filters also play a big role.

Gen Z shoppers expect stores to enable their social sharing behaviour, with 53% agreeing that the top amenity they expect in-store is free WiFi, while retail apps that offer click and collect services lag behind at 30%.

The Euclid Analytics “Evolution of Retail: 2017 Gen Z Shopper Report” surveyed 1,500 US smartphone users in different age groups, demographics, household incomes and shopping preferences to uncover these latest insights.

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Infographic: Exploring European consumer views on connected technology at retail

connected technology retail week
The European Connected Consumer, by Retail Week

While interest and uptake in connected technology in retail is growing – from wearables to smart fitting rooms – levels of consumer usage and acceptance fluctuate from country to country across Europe, according to Retail Week’s latest report.

It compiled research from seven territories, including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK, as per the infographic below.

Titled The European Connected Consumer, and written in association with Osborne Clark, the study outlines the fact European consumers should not be targeted as one homogenous group by retailers. Understanding behavioural nuances presents great opportunities to businesses whether interacting with consumers in retail, digital health, transport, logistics or emerging innovations, it explains.

“By discovering the game-changing shifts in European consumer behaviour we believe your business will be better equipped to navigate the digital revolution and drive future innovations,” writes Laura Heywood, commercial editor of Retail Week Connect.

As an integral part of the consumer’s need to be constantly ‘on’, there’s a growing appetite for connected wearables, for instance. Fitness trackers take the lead, with Italy, the world’s second healthiestcountry according to Bloomberg, showing the highest take-up (48%), followed closely by Spain (47%) and Germany (36%). Moving forward, trackable devices will need to seamlessly blend into busy lifestyles, as demonstrated by Levi’s’ and Google’s Project Jacquard jacket, it outlines.

The UK meanwhile shows the lowest adoption of fitness tracking and virtual health technologies – 68% use neither, compared with 59% across Europe. The report indicates this could be a result of public concerns following recent high profile data breaches, such as TalkTalk’s cyber attack in October.

One of the areas to have shown the biggest improvement and uptake is payment and shopping technologies, exemplified by the rise of contactless cards. These have been widely adopted across Europe, with 45% of respondents having used them in the past three months. Spain has the highest usage at 57% and Italy the lowest at just 26%.

Alternatively, only a minority of consumers in the UK (33%) and the Netherlands (40%) use mobile payments apps like Apple Pay. This may soon change as big retailers such as Tesco in the UK and Inditex in Spain, which owns Zara and Pull & Bear among others, launch their own mobile payment apps in the near future.

connected technology retail week

Physical retail is still generally the preferred mode of shopping in many regions otherwise, sitting at 69% compared to 31% who chose online. Belgium shows the most conservative results, with an 80% majority preferring to shop in store, largely due to heavy retail regulations that make it harder for advanced technologies to enter the country, according to analysis from Euromonitor International.

Meanwhile, consumers across territories were unanimous in their biggest concern when shopping online, 54% voted security. They ranked it higher than convenience, speed and reliability. French consumers are most keenly aware of the importance of security (71%), while the UK closely followed at 63% and Germany at 59%.

There’s a willingness to share personal data however, with 53% of Europeans overall being open to it. The Italians were most confident at 66%, followed by the Brits at 61%. German respondents revealed the most reluctance, with 59% stating they are not comfortable sharing data, compared to 47% across Europe.

The report suggests that businesses that are transparent about data usage, stating how it will be shared with partners or allowing the customer to personalise their profile, manage to remove anxieties and establish trust.

In exchange, 78% of Europeans expect differentiated pricing, while additional perks such as discounts and personalised offers based on search and purchase history also help boost a willingness to share for 82% of them.

As for the future, the report outlines the fact concepts such as 3D body scanning and virtual fitting rooms are becoming more accepted features of physical stores, while there is somewhat hesitant appetite for drones and driverless vehicles to become logistic realities.

More than half of European consumers (57%) are excited by the concept of virtual fitting rooms, for instance, although the UK scores low (42%) in comparison to countries such as Spain (82%) and Italy (70%).

Opinion is more divided when it comes to drones – less than half of Europeans (46%) say that if drones were to be used in parcel delivery they would consider this a positive development. Italy is the most favourable to it (67%) followed by Spain (60%). At the other end of the scale, and once again revealing some hesitation regarding innovation, is the Netherlands and the UK, where 68% and 64% respectively say they would not consider drone delivery as positive.

You can download the full report here: The European Connected Consumer.