How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. 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.
Artificial intelligence, social media buzz and customer acquisition tools are just a few of the strategies behind vending machines being used as a key part of today’s retail experience.
Intelligent vending machines, which are expected to grow 17% globally over the next five years, come with technology that can provide invaluable customer data – making what was once an anonymous purchase into a visible opportunity for targeting and acquisition.
And so, brands and retailers have begun investing in activations where the machine is central to the experience, and dispense anything from beauty items to full-sized cars. Here we look at the most innovative vending machine experiences and technologies that are helping shape the future of retail.
Adidas: Live interaction
To promote its new Splash Pack line, Adidas installed vending machines in two sports bars in LA and Boston during the baseball World Series. Customers were able to win a variety of limited edition products, from cleats to autographs and gear from Adidas athletes. The vending machine had built-in digital printing capabilities that would unlock different items based on the on-field action. For example, when player Chris Sale hit a homerun, it unlocked a chance to get his graphic tees. That created an ongoing buzz that kept fans coming back to check which new prizes were up for grabs next.
Lululemon: Data capturing
Lululemon tapped into one of its core demographics, runners, by setting up a machine at one of its Run Stop Shops in New York, and another one in Chicago. Prizes included essential running supplies, such as Honey Stinger energy chews and Lululemon socks and hats. To win free goodies, customers had to answer a quick questionnaire on their workout habits, register with their emails and post a picture with the caption #thesweatlifeNYC or #thesweatlifeCHI.
Revlon: Social media shoutout
In a similar vein, Cosmetics brand Revlon teamed up with beauty retailer Ulta to create a vending machine that toured the US to dish out free gifts with purchase for users also willing to engage on social media. After purchasing a product, clients would be encouraged to post a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #LiveBoldly – the title of Revlon’s latest campaign – in order to win a free gift. Different gifts were available depending on how much the client spent in-store.
Mulberry launched an in-store vending machine in partnership with TheCurrent Global, where visitors played a game of roulette in order to win prizes, from leather goods to vouchers to spend. The activity aimed to capture data on existing or new customers of the brand – in order to play, users had to input their social media handles and had the option to add their email address for further prizes. The machine was part of a larger #MulberryLights campaign for the holidays whereby it also toured stores in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester and New York.
Caravana: Retail theater
When magnified, vending machines can provide customers with an automated retail theatre that only adds to the retail experience. US-based online car dealership Caravana has created a physical location that features a seven-story vending machine that quite literally, dispenses cars. While most of the purchase process happens online (buying, selling and financing), when the buyer wants to test drive, they can schedule to pick up their desired car at the vending machine, located in Indianapolis. Adding even more to the experience, a Carvana employee will then hand out a giant coin that customers have to slot into the machine in order to retrieve the car. Alibaba has also launched something similar in partnership with Ford in China.
Dirty Lemon: Text-to-buy
NYC-based The Drug Store, which sells healthy beverage brand Dirty Lemon, looks like a walk-in vending machine for its entirely unmanned experience. Customers simply walk into the store and open the fridge to take any beverage, and walk out – there is no staff, cashier or even security in place. To pay, customers must text a number and say exactly what they are purchasing. The company has also deployed RFID tech in the refrigerators to track inventory sold, while a heat map tracker monitors customer flow.
Yves Saint Laurent: Customization
To promote its beauty collection in Hong Kong, Yves Saint Laurent created a vending machine that added a level of customization to the consumer’s purchased. Called “Lipstick Engraving ATM 2.0”, the experience allowed guests to purchase lipsticks and have their name lazered on the product on the spot. “The concept behind the #YSLBeautyClub vending machine is all about fun and engaging way to interact with the brand. It’s about beauty on the go,” said Marie Laure Claisse, YSL Beauty’s marketing manager, at the time.
Hung Fook Tong: Personalization through AI
In Hong Kong, herbal tea chain Hung Fook Tong (HFT) is rolling out vending machines that use a combination of visual recognition technology and artificial intelligence to better understand and serve their customer. Machines will have cameras that photograph the customers, and create an individual profile that also includes past purchases. After analyzing data such as the climate at the point of sale, age and gender, the machine will know which drink or product a particular customer is most likely to buy and provide a recommendation.
How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent 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.
British luxury brand Mulberry has teamed up with innovation consultancy, Current Global, to create an interactive retail installation that will travel around the UK for the festive period.
The initiative, which is tied to the brand’s #MulberryLights campaign, celebrates how light, colour, shapes and people come together to create a modern British Christmas.
It is anchored by a smart vending machine that will appear in stores in London, Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh, designed to reward participation, amplify social engagement and capture data. The experience invites users to share their lights-inspired images with the hashtag #MulberryLights, to gain instant access to the prizes stored.
The machine works by verifying that the social media share has taken place on either Instagram or Twitter. It then invites users to interact in a bespoke gaming experience through its digital portal, before rewarding them for taking part. Each day, one lucky player will win the top prize of a £1,000 gift card. Other prizes include small leather goods, stickers and festive chocolate. Every user can also enter the chance to win a further £5,000 to spend on gifts at Mulberry.
The experience was produced by Current Global, an innovation consultancy transforming how fashion and luxury brands intersect with technology.
Liz Bacelar, CEO of Current Global, said: “Mulberry came to us seeking a creative and interactive experience that would help drive store footfall during the holiday period. Smart vending machines are currently having a moment in retail; creating incredible engagement with fans as well as relevancy in a noisy and overly saturated market. With a portfolio of thousands of startups and top technologies from around the globe, Current Global was able to quickly identify the ideal partner to co-create the #MulberryLights concept. This is another example of how open innovation – collaboration with external partners – is the most effective route to real innovation.”
The installation will be in Mulberry’s Regent Street flagship from November 15-18. It kicks off with an immersive pop-up light experience, alongside drinks and live music while the Regent Street lights are turned on. It then travels to Leeds November 22-25, Manchester November 26-28, and Edinburgh November 29 – December 2. A second machine will also appear in New York in December.
Further stickers, fly posters and projections from Mulberry will be dotted around London, Manchester and Edinburgh, encouraging consumers to take photos and tag them on social media with the hashtag.
How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. 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.
British luxury label Mulberry is introducing a connected retail experience at its new London flagship store, as part of a wider strategy focused on customer experience.
The brand is working with payments platform, Adyen, and mobile assisted selling platform, Tulip, to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping. In store, this will include mobile checkouts and an endless aisle feature, where customers can purchase items that are out-of-stock in-store, online. Additionally the store will also feature click-and-collect and two-hour same-day delivery across Central London.
Using Adyen’s platform, Mulberry will also be able to offer overseas shoppers their preferred local payment methods.
“I’m excited to be opening our new global flagship at 100 Regent Street where we have created a rich and vibrant store concept that brings to life all the elements of British landscape and architecture that inspire us,” said Johnny Coca, the brand’s creative director. “The pace and energy of Regent Street captures the spirit of Mulberry and is the perfect setting to unveil this new chapter of our brand.”
In celebration of the launch and London Fashion Week commencing, Coca and Stephanie Phair, chairman of the BFC, will be co-hosting a supper club this Friday (September 14).
On Saturday (September 15), the brand is inviting customers in-store to enjoy cocktails and become a #MulberryMuse for the AW18 campaign through a bespoke interactive studio that creates customized portraits that are played onto the store windows.
The London flagship launch comes following Mulberry’s major push in Asia earlier this month, through a four-day event in Seoul called “Mulberry x Seoul”. The initiative featured a series of events including a runway show at the K Museum of Contemporary Art showcasing the AW 18/19 collection, which was also broadcast live across social media.
For the remaining days the same venue also hosted a gala, while customers could further discover the brand through a pop-up store, a selfie studio and films. The initiative also gave brand fans the chance to win gifts and buy a limited edition handbag, which was only available in Korea for two weeks.
“Korea was the second [biggest] country in terms of revenue so it was important to be part of that expansion and to communicate more about the brand and its heritage to the Korean customer,” said Mulberry’s creative director Johnny Coca about the event.
Luxury labels are increasingly looking to diversify their storytelling strategies, and over the past few years this has included taking the brand on the road to markets it has a solid customer base, or a huge potential in. Last week, Tommy Hilfiger hosted its Tommy Now runway event in Shanghai, China. The event acted as an anchor to a content ecosystem that helps customers – who are often new to the brand – better understand its DNA. This strategy and more was the subject of our latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast, featuring Tommy’s chief brand officer, Avery Baker.
How are you thinking about retail 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.
How make-up swatches became a political battleground [Dazed]
In hype beast homes, Supreme accessories are the hot decor [Fashionista]
How are you thinking about innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. TheCurrent 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.
Mulberry’s holiday campaign breathes new life into iconic Christmas carol, the ’12 days of Christmas’ this year, with a quirky and playful sing-a-long.
Directed by Charlotte Wales, the “My True Love Gave To Me” film focuses on taking poetic license in the visual expression of the 12 days. The “piper’s piping” for instance, turns to baking, while the “four calling birds” are models on their mobile phones.
“Mulberry is about embracing heritage and tradition, and then flipping it in an unexpected way,” says Mulberry creative director, Johnny Coca. “This time of year should be filled with love and laughter. We wanted to make people smile and leave them wanting to celebrate a very Mulberry Christmas.”
There are also all manner of Mulberry-references throughout the clips, naturally including its accessories and mainline collection.
The song itself is performed by Mercury Prize nominated band ‘The Big Moon’. It’s a fairly big step away from Mulberry’s 2016 campaign, which tugged at the heartstrings via an endearing story of love and acceptance played by child actors pretending to be grown-ups.
The holiday season has become a big opportunity for retailers and brands to create a deeper emotional connection with their customers at a pivotal time of year for spend. 2016 continues much in the same way, powered by big launches including a message of female empowerment from M&S with Mrs Claus, another iconic nod from John Lewis with Buster the Boxer, and a big cinematic piece from Burberry.
Whether the intention is to encourage happy tears or just have your audience laugh, brands are stepping up to the challenge of showing a strong sense of self, and conveying a powerful message in the process, all in a bid, of course, to drive some of that all-important Q4 revenue in their direction.
Read on for our pick of the best campaigns across the fashion and retail space in Europe and US this year (beyond those already mentioned), as well as a bevvy of further ones to know about below…
Mulberry: It’s What’s Inside That Counts
Mulberry tugs at the heartstrings for the holiday season with an endearing story of love and acceptance played by child actors pretending to be grown-ups. The two-part film, which was shot in the British countryside in Surrey, tells the story of a traditional Christmas where three siblings return to their childhood home to spend the holidays with their difficult mother. As the story unravels, secrets and problems come to light. At the end of Part I, in an act of generosity, one sibling gifts her sister her much loved new Bayswater bag, in a realisation that “it’s what’s inside that counts”.
Directed by Albert Moya and written by Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel), it explores a deeper meaning of accepting each other for who they are. As Johnny Coca, the label’s creative director, explains: “When I was a kid, all that I wanted to do was to be grown up so I could be like my dad. Now that I am an adult, I just want to be a kid again! Christmas brings out the kid in all of us, and this is what I love about using children to tell our story this year.” The second and final version, which shows the family coming to terms with each others’ faults and weaknesses, premieres later this month.
Macy’s: The #SantaProject
The tagline for Macy’s holiday campaigns has long been about the idea of “Believe”. For 2016, they’ve turned that into an exploration of whether children today do indeed believe in Santa Claus. Cue a series of seriously cute clips featuring young kids sharing their thoughts on the miracle of Christmas, before a reminder message of the sort of realities they’re faced with when turning to the internet to search out the truth instead. It’s a positive note revolving really around kindness with what we post online, which let’s face it, can be applied to all parts of life, especially after this rocky year.
Rebecca Minkoff: Holiday My Way With @arielle
Rebecca Minkoff teams up with Vine star Arielle Vandenberg to tell the story of an independent woman trying to navigate the holidays by herself as she decides to stay in the city for the first time, and not go home to see her family. Each video, or chapter, focuses on a different achievement as the main character stumbles into adulthood, from decorating the apartment, to hosting a Friendsgiving, alluding to Thanksgiving as well.
Rebecca Minkoff, the designer herself, makes a cameo as a friend disappointed with the (clumsily wrapped) gift she receives from the main character. On other platforms, the #holidaymyway hashtag is being used to promote a Christmas gift guide and additional marketing content.
Harrods: A Very British Bear Tale
Seemingly inspired by Disney’s Frozen, Harrods tells an animated tale of a young teddy bear serving as the only (snuggly) survivor when an ice storm takes over the palace thanks to a mischievous elf. Hugh, as he’s called, comes to the rescue by climbing to the rooftop in order to signal help from Father Christmas in the North Pole. As the narrated story continues, the spell is broken and Hugh ends up crowned a prince thanks to his courage.
In addition from Harrods this season, is A Very British Fairy Tale in partnership with Burberry; a stop motion short made from paper cutouts.
Coach: A Holiday Film Starring #RexyTheCoachDino
Coach continues its good-humoured approach to luxury with a holiday film starring its now beloved mascot, Rexy the Coach Dino. The film shows what happens at the label’s New York City workshop after hours, when one rogue Rexy leather dinosaur comes to life. Aiming to wreak havoc, the dinosaur runs free pushing over boxes, breaking baubles and generally creating a mess, all while dancing – by herself – to the soundtrack of Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself”, as sung by The Donnas. As the sun rises, Rexy spots an open window and sets herself free, roaming the streets of the city independently.
Kate Spade: Make Magic Happen
Kate Spade’s short but sweet spot, starring model Jourdan Dunn and stylist Catherine Baba, features a small cameo by the iconic Miss Piggy. Shouting over the spot in a possessive manner, “Mine! Mine! Mine!”, the fabulous Muppets’ character attempts to keep all handbags to herself. The campaign also promotes the designer’s latest collaboration, with Miss Piggy herself. The holiday line includes wallets, phone cases, and accessories with the character’s “Who, moi?” catchphrase.
Speaking to WWD, Miss Piggy talked of her excitement to join the great group of women associated with the brand: “Moi was already a big fan of Kate Spade New York’s Miss Adventure’s series. I mean you see all these fabulous and incredibly strong and wonderful women like Anna Kendrick and Zosia Mamet having fun. So, I thought: I’m fabulous, incredibly strong and wonderful, I need to be part of this. When I discovered they wanted to create product inspired by moi: Well, it was a done deal.”
Target: The Toycracker
Target is betting big on its holiday campaign with an eight-minute musical titled The Toycracker, a cheeky take on the Nutcracker classic that reimagines the Tchaikovsky soundtrack as a modern hip hop track. Developed by ad agency 72AndSunny, the spot stars singer John Legend as the Rat King, his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, as the Nutcracker and Isabella Russo (The School of Rock) as Clara. This year’s popular toys, such as Trolls and Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles, have replaced classic characters such as the Sugar Plum Fairy and toy soldiers, while the play’s famous sword fight scene will be told as a rap battle.
The full musical will air in two four-minute spots during ABC’s network premiere of the film Frozen on December 11 in the US. Meanwhile, the brand has launched behind-the-scenes footage of the night of the musical in the shape of a trailer, starring the Bullseye dog and a young girl, Marisol, as well as toys that have come to life to work on the production. The campaign will be supported by further marketing activity that includes a Snapchat filter and a “10 Days of Deals” promotion.
Farfetch: The Holiday Remix
For this Christmas season, Farfetch is presenting a remix of all things festive with a shoppable video that takes on a modern twist of the Nutcracker story. The e-tailer worked with choreographer Dana Foglia, of Beyonce’s Formation fame, to create a modern-day version of Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy, with dancers donning this season’s best partywear.
When watched on Farfetch.com, the video allows customers to shop by displaying circles over certain garments, thanks to a partnership with touchable video platform Cinematique. Clicking the circles will showcase more information about the outfit, and allow users to add to a basket and checkout at the end.
Warehouse continues its ‘Resolutely British’ reinvention, under the helm of newly appointed creative director Emma Cook, with a video campaign that celebrates what happens in the girl’s room, or the ladies’ room at public spaces, from nightclubs to bars. The short video shows women touching up their make-up, socialising and generally letting their guard down, in a space where “strangers become allies, the compliments are free and the drama is left on the dancefloor”.
Topshop: The Anti-Cliché Christmas
Topshop appeals to its young and trendy demographic with a call to express individuality. The spot showcases models of all different styles, from modern sportswear to grungy, walking as cuts outs in front of backgrounds including cityscapes and the beachside, emphasising the idea of party dressing “without the one-size-fits-all approach” in order to represent an anti-cliché sort of Christmas.
To celebrate the sentiment, Topshop has also launched its still image campaign presenting its next generation of rising fashion stars, which are models Stella Maxwell, Londone Myers, Cami Morrone, Jing Wen, Kiki Willems, Marjan Jonkman, Damaris Goddrie, Caitie Green and Lottie Moss, Kate Moss’ youngest sister. Explaining the campaign, Kate Phelan, the retailer’s creative director, says: “This season is about the individual spirit of a woman – she no longer wants to be part of a tribe, she has her own style.”
House of Fraser: Christmas is Coming for You
British retailer House of Fraser is aiming to convey the excitement and anticipation that precedes the season with a modern dance spot, in the same vein as Farfetch. Teaming up with choreographer Suzette Brissett, the spot showcases dancers going through a whirlwind of settings, including an opulent dining table and a forest where trees are filled with presents. The upbeat soundtrack is courtesy of British songstress Laura Mvula, who reinterprets The Fugees’ classic Ready or Not track.
Additional ones to check out below include Cartier, Very.co.uk, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Harvey Nichols, Jack Wills, Boohoo.com, Debenhams, New Look, Tiffany & Co, Gap and Banana Republic. As a bonus: also tugging our heart strings outside the fashion space, is Sainsbury’s The Greatest Gift.
Mulberry has released a short film sharing the thoughts of its new creative director Johnny Coca ahead of the brand’s relaunch during London Fashion Week this season.
“That was then, this is now”, as the company refers to it, sees Coca speaking about his inspirations and his focus for the new collection. He refers to “Britishness” as an attitude and something individual, saying that it’s about “tradition and how it’s mixed with modernity”.
He’ll be bringing that to his first collection, mixing rebellion with “a balance of femininity; poetic but strong”.
Structure of the garments and bags will be a big focus, drawn from his love of architecture, while colour will also play a part, heavily influenced by his obsession with red; something he says is probably because it’s very Spanish, but appropriately also very British. He also talks about his decision to restore an original 1970s logo he found in the brand archives.
There are multiple additional hints as to his thought process from the film – the bank of the Thames, food slopping on a plate, models walking up concrete steps of the Barbican, a gargoyle, heavy florals, a china teacup, piano keys, an orange (perhaps a Seville orange nodding to where he was born), cycling, a washing machine. “I’m inspired by things I see everyday,” he explains.
In a press statement, he adds: “I wanted to reinforce the British character and sensibility of Mulberry. It’s quite humbling – to be trusted with this brand that people love and feel is very much part of them and their lives. In my role as creative director I want to push the boundaries, but also respect the values and DNA at the core of Mulberry.”
Coca is part of a turnaround plan at Mulberry that has also seen a new CEO put in place, and a shift away from the brand’s original intention to move upscale. More bags have been introduced around the £500-£1,000 mark, while a big focus has been put on enabling digital sales. It returned to positive during H1 2015 (six months to September 2015), with pre-tax profit of £60,000, compared with a loss of £1.1m a year earlier.
Coca follows Emma Hill, who left the company in 2013. He was most recently head designer director for leather goods, accessories, shoes and jewelry at Céline. His vision for Mulberry has been entirely shrouded in secrecy until now.
The full reveal will take place during the show at 4pm GMT on Sunday February 21. Until then, Mulberry will also be revealing more via both Instagram and its new Snapchat channel. Follow along via @MulberryEngland and #MulberryEngland.