We're now halfway through 2012 and traditionally posts about new trends are written at the beginning of the year. But like the seasons, things change and they do so quickly.
I’ve been doing a bit of research and looked at what’s currently trending internationally and what may just be about to hit the mainstream. Here are five current trends that I think brand owners (specifically in New Zealand) should invest in, or should at least have on their radar.
The second screen
The increasing uptake of portable devices, faster broadband speeds and the convenience factor while watching TV is creating a perfect storm for advertisers. What was previously an opportunity to sit down with the family with a bag of popcorn or TV dinner, has now become a solitary experience, where we share what we’re watching with our online friends, check emails, watch trailers for upcoming movies and out-bid Nancy from Nantucket on eBay.
The challenge for brands is how to leverage this behaviour and the digital technology that will help create two-way conversations in what was previously a one-way street.
• According to Google smartphone penetration in New Zealand is now at 44 percent
• 86 percent of Americans use their smartphone while doing something else.
• 64 percent of consumers recall seeing social prompts on TV
• iPhone app IntoNow partnered with Pepsi in a promotion that rewards users with a free drink if they manage to ‘tag’ the brand's TVC
• Zeebox, a free app, gives additional information about what you are watching and allows you to purchase what you see on TV
• On-screen promotions using hashtags, Twitter handles and links to Facebook pages provide valuable insights for television networks. Top trending shows are more likely to be renewed for another season
Many brick and mortar stores are now beginning to understand the rapid change in consumer shopping behaviour. Some are still not there yet. Just recently, Wellington fashion designer Alexandra Owen, decided to quit the country and move offshore due to the tough economic climate. Importantly, the business models used by stores (setting up in highly trafficked areas) need to be adapted for the digital world or businesses run the risk of quickly becoming redundant.
E-commerce shopping is as simple as pointing and clicking from mobile devices, and then waiting for delivery or picking up in person.
Innovative businesses however, are taking a more proactive approach and using mobile devices such as Countdown’s new app or ShopSavvy to deliver more choice to consumers or making the purchasing decision easier and faster.
• Nearly four in five internet users visit social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube etc. and of this market a massive 70 percent are buying online
• According to Gartner Research by 2015 companies will generate 50 percent of web sales via their social footprint and mobile applications
• US e-commerce sales will grow 62 percent by 2016, to US$327 billion
• Tesco Korea’s app lets shoppers purchase items from ‘shopping walls‘. The app has become the number one shopping app in Korea with over a million downloads
• Glamour magazine and L’Oreal team up allowing people riding in selected taxis to purchase products featured on screens inside the vehicle
• Fancy, a product discovery website, makes it easy for users to curate and then purchase items they find online. What the user ‘likes’ is then shared across their social media platforms such as Facebook, extending the reach for the retailer
Integrating offline with online
It’s certainly true that most consumers are now online, but this doesn’t mean consumers aren’t still drawn to ‘real life’ interactions. One of the major challenges for brand owners is knowing how to integrate the offline world with online.
With technological advancements comes increased reach and greater accuracy in quantifying campaign ROIs. The trick is understanding how to communicate real world interactions in the consumer’s online world and in doing so amplifying the brand’s voice.
• Of the 53 percent of consumers who have stopped an in-store purchase as a result of using their mobile phone, 38 percent have done so because they found a better price in another store, and 30 percent because they found a better price online
• Investment in digital billboards is expected to rise from $2.6 billion to $5.6 billion between 2010 to 2015
• 85 percent of merchants say mobile commerce is a focus in 2012, up from 68 percent in 2011
• AT&T set up a geo-fence around participating retail locations. When a subscriber crosses the geo-fence, push notifications with special offers are sent to their smartphones
• A McDonalds Pong billboard game in Stockholm allows users to control the ball on a billboard using their smartphone. Users are rewarded with a prize from a nearby McDonalds
• Here in New Zealand, the Powerade Challenge utilised RFID bracelets to track competitors' positions across a 9km running course. People’s times were put on digital billboards and shared online.
Brands are traditionally very protective of the territory they’ve worked hard to own, so while some may think it surprising and risky to work in partnership with another brand, it often makes perfect sense.
Brand collaboration enables a brand to ‘shape-change’ its identity whilst retaining its core brand characteristics; giving it an opportunity to tap into an audience that might otherwise be off limits to them.
Critical factors to achieve successful co-branding:
• High brand awareness.
• Very strong perceived quality associations.
• Significant brand equity.
• Personalised online accessory brand StylistPick created a pop-up store in London’s Westfield Mall where consumers could meet the celebrity curators of the items they bought
• Absolut Vodka and New Zealand clothing brand Huffer, created a limited edition bottleand vodka recipe specifically for New Zealand Fashion Week
• Vodafone and Visa launched an NFC-enabled mobile wallet in more than 30 countries, allowing consumers to purchase items using their Visa pre-paid accounts with Vodafone smartphones
While crowdsourcing isn’t anything new, its importance shouldn’t be underestimated. Savvy brands realise there are real benefits associated with involving customers, e.g. saving money, greater innovation, problem solving and increased customer satisfaction.
If you haven’t tapped into your customer base already then you’re missing out on a rich source of information.
• 50 percent of people have made a purchase based on a recommendation from their social network.
• New York City estimated it received $10 million worth of ideas for just $20,000 when it asked people how they could improve the city's public transport
• Needle is a “fan-sourcing sales platform that drives conversion” by enabling companies to use brand loyalists to assist in live chat with customers
• 2degrees in New Zealand has set up a community-driven page on Facebook where 2degrees customers are given phone credit for helping other members with their questions
While some of you may say these trends have been around for a while, you’re correct. However a trend’s importance is matched only by its ability to be useful. And thankfully for us, a convergence in digital technology and the internet means brands can meet customers in a more meaningful and relevant way. Do you agree with this list? If not, why not and what would you change?
Kaleb Francis is digital brand strategist at Marque - Brand Partners