The Big Idea, Revisited
It was two hours past midnight, now 2019, and the CEO of the biggest social media company in the world was sitting quietly at home, staring into the fire. He was very aware that all was not well with his “big idea.” Sure, there had been challenges before, but now it was under attack on several fronts.
He thought back to the humble beginnings of what would ultimately become his big idea. Back then, it had all been a bit of student fun, creating a “hot or not” ratings site. It was interesting how popular that idea became among his fellow male students in a very short time. In hindsight, it was also telling that the site was shut down because of how it used people’s pictures and information without their and Harvard’s consent. In fact, he almost got expelled for it.
But from that idea came the big one: Why not use some of the code to replace the paper version of Harvard’s face book directory with an online version? He coded it together in six days, and then set it free to students.
The rest, as they say, is history. He got investors and partners, and it grew and grew and grew. More hires, and now also acquisitions, and it grew even more. His big idea became a global phenomenon listed on the stock exchange. it reached billions of people and made billions of dollars through advertising.
His network was one of the biggest in absolute user numbers, in ad revenue, in growth, and other metrics. But, just like his first humble platform, this big idea began having its fair share of scandals and issues. There were those pesky twin brothers, there were issues with copyright, there were issues with who was held responsibility for what was posted (it wasn’t him, that was certain!). And now there are issues with data leaks and political gamesmanship.
His core team had always told the world that what they had created was benevolent and altruistic. There were, indeed, wonderful stories about adoptees finding their long-lost birth parents, about family members reuniting after having been separated by war or disasters, about organ donors and people with failing organs finding each other. The big idea also set off the Arab Spring movement and helped a young black President to win.
But when ad dollars started rolling in and hungry investors received big returns, that became all that mattered. Yes, he had had more enlightened moments, like the pivot to mobile and some of his acquisitions. But those had never been altruistic nor benevolent either. If they weren’t driven by an opportunity to open another source of ad dollars, then it was to try and kill a competitor before they could eat away at his ad dollars. It had never been about anything else but proving he could be successful — and showing the finger to those who had perhaps questioned or tried to stop him.
And now it was 2019, and his big idea would turn 15 years old. Because of his smarts, he understood how the addiction to growth without any interest for the consequences could potentially spiral out of control. Staring into the fireplace, he pondered what he should do. It was, after all, his big idea.
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December 28, 2018 at 12:29PM
Help Us Celebrate 15 Years of Blogging – TopRank Marketing Blog
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December 28, 2018 at 10:45AM
Digital Marketing News: Google Lens & Visual Search Updates, Social ROI Study, & App Ad Market Growth
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December 28, 2018 at 05:30AM
PSFK Retail Conference Preview: How Pinterest Is Helping Retailers Design Seamless Discovery-To-Purchase Journeys Online And Off
PSFK Retail Conference Preview: How Pinterest Is Helping Retailers Design Seamless Discovery-To-Purchase Journeys, Online And Off
Before speaking at PSFK's Future of Retail 2019 Conference on January 16, Amy Vener of Pinterest shares key insights on how the social inspiration platform is helping brands bring the discovery stage of shopping to ecommerce, as well as why visual search is the future of digital retail
While the digital shopping experience continues to expand and transform, it can still fall short of consumers’ expectations, particularly during stages like product discovery. Retailers increasingly feel pressure to make the shopping experience seamless and offer customers optimized levels of convenience and choice, something that social discovery platform Pinterest is particularly poised to serve, and currently focusing on enabling.
Ahead of the Future of Retail 2019 Conference this January, PSFK caught up with Amy Vener, retail vertical strategy lead at Pinterest, to preview what she’ll share on stage about the potential of technology like Pinterest’s visual search capabilities to enhance retail experience on and offline, and how it can help create more relevant shopping experiences as well as shorten the distance between inspiration and purchase.
Could you describe the work that you do for Pinterest, and how it serves any broader consumer and industry trends you see taking place?
As the retail vertical strategy lead, I help our retail partners understand how to best use the Pinterest platform to achieve a competitive advantage within their industry. Pinterest has more than 250 million consumers using the platform each month to discover all kinds of personally relevant ideas for their life. The visual discovery that takes place leads to great opportunities for retailers to introduce the right products and services to each consumer in the moments that matter most. It’s been a lot of fun to work with the retailers that are taking the time to understand this kind of consumer behavior and use it to provide meaningful shopping experiences.
How do you help connect retailers with Pinterest?
Having been in both the merchandising and marketing organizations on the retailer’s side of the house, I have a real appreciation for all the work that goes into consistently delivering their sales numbers.
What we think is different about how retailers work with Pinterest is that on our platform the consumer’s journey involves the retailer. Consumers expect brands and their products to be the content they’re on Pinterest for in the first place. This alignment gives both the consumer and the retailer a shared experience, providing both with the discovery and the ability to buy/get/do. Telling this story is great, because everyone wins when it’s done right.
Who are your primary retailer users today, and how do they leverage the platform to enhance their business?
Both traditional and digitally native retailers have seen positive results on the platform. We believe that the key to growth on Pinterest is understanding the full consumer journey, and measuring success through that lens.
The holiday season is a great example for demonstrating this point. While Thanksgiving marks the official start of holiday shopping, people on Pinterest start planning for the holidays in September. People use Pinterest to find new holiday ideas for decorating their home, planning what they want to wear and what they might cook early on in the process.
This time of early consideration, before deciding what they will ultimately buy, is where retailers are finding new growth to their business. Being there in the early phases of researching and discovering earns retailers the chance to be there for the decision. Measurement methodologies that span across the initial consideration to the final purchase capture this value, and provide the right ammunition for bigger investments because of the incremental growth.
Are there any insights you can share on the importance for retailers today to implement social media platforms like Pinterest into their strategy?
We’ve found that 9 out of 10 people buy things because of what they discovered on Pinterest.* We believe that the open mindset people have on the platform during life’s planning moments makes Pinterest a highly successful purchasing funnel that many brands are taking advantage of. In fact, 72% of Pinners say that Pinterest even inspires them to shop when they aren’t actively looking for something specific.*
In addition, Pinners are 39% more likely to be active retail shoppers and spend 29% more than people who don’t use Pinterest.** In short, we think that the audience on Pinterest is extremely valuable.
What insights do you have on what consumers expect from retailers and from the shopping experience today?
Consumers are looking for meaningful shopping experiences, in stores and from their phones. Consumers want to be able to discover ideas that are personal to their individual tastes, and once they discover these ideas, they want to be able to shop—anytime, anywhere.
Today, the digital shopping experience isn’t great. Discovery is hard, and taking an action once you do discover something that you like is even harder. There is enormous pressure for retailers to make the shopping experience seamless and to give consumers new levels of convenience and choice. Pinterest partners with retailers to provide this to consumers.
You emphasize the importance of personalization and contextualization in retail strategy. Can you expand upon this, and explain how Pinterest serves these ends particularly well?
Retailers need to understand the attributes of the customer—how, when and what they buy—and use that information to personalize products and services to the shopper from the first moment of discovery, creating a consistent experience across channels.
With the rise of consumer expectations around personalization, we’re seeing the most innovative retailers approach our platform in new and inspiring ways. We’ve partnered with Target to integrate our visual search technology into its mobile apps. With Lens, Target will make it easier for their guests to discover relevant products based on their personal style. A customer can take a picture of something they like in-store or elsewhere in real life and discover visually similar products available to buy at Target. This is the first integration of Pinterest Lens into a retail environment.
Technology can help create more relevant shopping experiences and shorten the distance between inspiration and purchase. For example, The Home Depot’s ‘Built-in Pin’ campaign used Pinterest insights to identify trending colors and home decor styles and featured them in a fast motion video that shows how the look can be created. The Pins give in-market consumers the confidence to create stylish looks in their own home—making the inspiring feel achievable.
What do you plan on sharing at our future of retail conference?
The impact of meaningful shopping experiences, and how we’re partnering with retailers to provide this in-store and digitally.
How does Pinterest plan to continue evolving moving forward? Anything you can share?
There’s been a lot of technology innovation in the retail industry over the course of the last few years, from chatbots to voice assistants that have impacted the consumer shopping experience. For some retailers, these innovations can be distracting to their business. At the core, retail is about introducing consumers to new ideas that inspire them to make a purchase. The future of retail centers on the ability for people to have discovery experiences. For Pinterest, this comes in the form of visual search, that is people using their eyes, like they always have, instead of tapping text or calling out commands.
Thanks to cameras in everyone’s pocket and the 175 billion Pins on our platform, we are creating digital consumer shopping experiences that mirror what it’s like to shop in the physical world. For example, if you’re shopping for running shoes in a store, you begin by visiting the shoe department, then pick out a running shoe. This would be similar to a discovery experience you have on Pinterest.
Visual technology powers everything on Pinterest, from the content recommendations to the way we serve ads. Image recognition and machine learning fuel innovative new products like Lens and Shop the Look. This technology delivers different visual marketing solutions to retailers. Unlike text or voice, visual search sits squarely in the native shopping environment consumers already understand; like with the running shoes above, it’s similar to how they shop in physical stores today.
Shifts in consumer behavior can feel subtle when they’re happening, but they have long-lasting effects on our expectations, buying habits and brand relationships. Retailers can get ahead of these changes and ensure a future of continual discovery by investing in the power of visual search. Even in a world of competing voices, the one that leaves a lasting impression is visual.
* GfK, US, Multi-vertical Pinterest in the Path to Purchase among its Weekly Users, Dec 2017
** Oracle Data Cloud DLX ROI, “Pinterest Retail Audience Profile Report”, May 201
For more inspiring insights from pioneers like Amy who are transforming the retail experience, come see an entire panel of speakers from today’s most innovative brands at PSFK’s annual Future of Retail 2019 Conference, tickets available now.
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December 28, 2018 at 12:09AM
PSFK Retail Conference Preview: How A Women’s Apparel Brand Taps The Power Of Community
Before taking the stage at PSFK's upcoming Future of Retail Conference on January 16, Lively CEO and founder Michelle Cordeiro explains how the women's apparel company is marshaling the power of community to build a brand that is consumer-centric, data-driven and focused on maintaining a dialogue with its audience
As researchers, we sense great groundswell when it comes to the retail industry—in fact, one executive at a Minneapolis-based retail company suggested to us that we’re possibly witnessing the ‘rebirth of retail.’
One of the aspects that is driving the rebirth of retail is the rise of new companies that are coming into the space and shaking things up. Whether we call them DTC, Direct to Consumer brands or digitally native brands, it’s an exciting time to be in this landscape.
To understand the changes in retail and DTC brands in particular, PSFK will interview Michelle Cordeiro Grant, founder and CEO of Lively, a community-focused womenswear brand specializing in intimate, active and swim apparel, at the upcoming Future of Retail 2019 Conference, January 16. Before taking the stage, PSFK founder Piers Fawkes caught up with Cordeiro to find out more about her brand and its focus on maintaining responsiveness to its consumers.
Piers Fawkes: Lively has been around for about two years. Could you explain the brand and what you’re focusing on selling?
Michelle: Lively is a community, first and foremost. We are a brand and an experience focused on inspiring women to live life passionately, purposefully and confidently. We start our conversation with bras and undies specifically, a category that I felt was for women and should be created by women to really channel that conversation.
Then we quickly grew into swimwear, active and some adjacent products like fragrance and so forth that continue with the ethos and the conversation that we drive.
One of the big drivers behind the new brands we see cropping up is this idea of ‘purpose.’ What is your perspective on this?
I grew up in retail. I worked for top companies like Federated, VF Corporation, and spent the tenure of my career with Victoria’s Secret. I learned so much from Lex Wexner about the power of brand, the power of cohesive brands, and most importantly, how to create a company that could drive brand power by also being very successful in operating income
For me I was just very impressed with the business model that Victoria’s Secret created. However, after several years I was no longer a customer, and I was no longer relating to the marketing and the message of what the company stood for.
I realized that with a 13 billion-dollar business in the United States alone, perhaps I could start my own conversation, my own community, and take that business model and leverage relevancy in marketing and where I felt the market was going in terms of how you speak to consumers and more importantly, how you bridge the gap between brand, company and community.
It was 2012 when I made that decision in my career. Mobile was still single digits in terms of the percent of revenue that was being driven by corporations, and social media was a conversation that was just starting to be welcomed into our Monday night meetings.
For me it just felt like the best time, both personally and professionally, to start to unlock what the future of community and retail is.
What’s driving you to tap the power of community in retail?
In the ’90s, I loved the idea of Ralph Lauren and what that logo represented. The power of how you felt when you put a product on and you saw a word and that brand impression and so forth, but I felt that through the recession and the early 2000s that brands were really diluting in terms of equity.
For me, I was like, “There is this power in terms of what brands can have on impacting human emotion and we need to bring that back. That’s our job as retailers, is to really inspire and impact human psyche.”
For me, as a woman, working for major corporations, I felt that there was an opportunity for more women not to just participate in their careers but to lead and lead in whatever it is in your life that you love to do. For me, that was going to brunch with women every Saturday. I was the only one at the table that loved what I did. Everyone else was like, “Oh, my job, my family, this, that.”
Make the choice to live your life doing what you love. For me, that’s my passion, is to create a community and a conversation that inspires women to value the idea of uniqueness, not to aspire to be what an image of a marketing channel is telling you to feel like, but to really channel the idea of your most powerful tool—individuality.
Once you realize that, the world shifts on its head. Once you realize that uniqueness is your greatest strength and you start to lean into that, all of a sudden, you start to look around and you’re leaning into other people for support and networking and so forth. You start to live your life doing what you love.
That’s where our movement and our idea came from.
Could you explain how your brand connects with community?
In August 2015, I started to work on ‘Brand X.’ It didn’t have a name. I knew I wanted to launch in April of 2016. What I would do is, I would create focus groups. I would say, “Here’s images of what I feel this brand should look like.”
12 women in the fitness community, 12 women that are recent moms, 12 women in business, all different facets of women, how do you feel when I put this image on the table? Write down one word, put it on a post-it, go.
We would create trend lines in terms of where were people feeling confident in emotion and things that related to what our core values were. Next step, we would go towards copy, same thing.
What word do you like to relate to the word underwear? Is it panty? Is it undies? Is it underwear? Is it thongs? What gives you the ickies and what makes you feel like, “This is something that I actually want to talk about.” Over five different focus groups, the word undie was the one that they chose.
We went on and on like this for six months. Once we did that, we then went to social media and we started to post those images. We posted that copy. Instantly, we started to get direct messages from the women that we wanted to be in our audience.
First woman was Taylor Tippy from Chicago. She had a hundred thousand followers and she was a flight attendant. “I used to put post-it notes on the inside of your seat and it would say, ‘Your day is about to get better.'” We’re like, “You are what we believe is a representative of our brand Lively. How do we find a hundred more like you?”
Hired a bunch of interns and started to hit Instagram and said, “Who else is living their feed like Taylor? I don’t care if you have a hundred followers, I don’t care if you have a hundred thousand followers. Do you live Lively?”
We purposefully ignored New York and San Francisco because we said, “As a digitally native brand, you’re just going to get those two states. They’ probably will be 70% of your sales but we’ve done our jobs if it’s 40%.” We went for the middle. We had 75 women in the middle of the country, ready to share and show Lively.
It sounds like you had built this community before you had products.
How long did it take between that time where you were talking to the community and you started selling?
We started focus grouping around September. We started building our community with social media in February. We sold our first product on April 1.
Some of the criticism about DTC brands is that they’re bi-coastal— that they’re aiming at niche markets and can’t grow beyond New York and L.A. Has that concerned you?
Yeah. If we live in Manhattan, we have a different point of view in terms of how we see and live our lives. But I’m a girl from Pennsylvania and I wanted to make sure that that people that I grew up with could relate to my brand, that they could be accessible. Not just the product and the marketing but affordability, too.
That’s why I went after supply chain. There was one rule that we have and we maintain to this day. It’s that we will never market Lively for price. You have to decide, one, that you are inspired by your brand, two, you want to come to our home page, and three, click into a product page before you’ll find out that a Lively Bra is $35 dollars.
Because of that and because of those values around accessibility, you have to think about in Middle America: They want a certain price because they want to be a part of something. It should feel luxurious, just like Net-a-Porter, but they should be able to go after it whether it’s 50,000 dollars in household income or 500,000.
They also have a different size range than what we see in New York City. We launched with 22 sizes, 32A to 38DD, which is a lot of bras [laughs] in one color when you’re a new company. It’s thinking through all these different facets of what a consumer in the middle of the country needs versus the coastal.
Adding that on later is much harder to add into your business model to say that you’re going to change your price point or you’re going to add sizes and so forth.
How has the business grown over the last two years?
We launched in April of 2016, and because we strategically went after the middle of the country, we had two tools when we launched. We had our ambassadors. We leveraged Harry’s code for a refer-a-friend campaign, which, thank you, Harry’s, was very successful for us.
We garnered 133,000 emails in 2 days just by messaging those images and those words that we learned from our focus groups. In 45 days of launching, we shipped to every state in the country. Now, we ship to every state in the country on a weekly basis.
Our first year, we launched and then we expected to do this and come back up. With supply chain and read and react, we were able to continue to take orders then grew by 300% than 150%.
Could you explain your product strategy ?
On the product side, it’s really easy for us. Our customers tell us what to create. Some of our best launches have been based on consumers saying, “Hey, I love the idea of a bralette but I’m a size DD or a 32 DDD.” We were like, “We create a bralette like that. We’re going to call it the Busty Bralette.” It sold out in 24 hours, and so forth. Because we are filling a need for something that they don’t see existing.
Same thing happened with swimwear—we started to see our customers wearing our bralettes at the beach and wearing our leisurely bras at yoga. They’re like, “Can you just make it for us?” Actually, we can.
We started to just spend time listening to them and creating, saying, “You love this bralette and lingerie. How does that feel in swimwear?” It was very much a mirror image. What we realized, and I learned this at Victoria’s Secret, is that as soon as you get a customer in one of these very vulnerable categories, it’s very easy to have that trust and that loyalty and build around. For me, it’s all about products that are high margin, easy to ship and female-centric.
We hear about Casper being the sleep brand and Away being the travel brand—that set them up to broaden their product lines. Where do you see your brand expanding?
There’s one tag line we’ve had on our home page basically for two years. That’s “Today, bras and undies. Tomorrow, the world.” We wanted to create a brand where today, we could sell bras and tomorrow, we can sell concert tickets. We don’t know. That’s the fun of it, is that we want to be on this journey with our community. It’s very open.
Could you speak about how your marketing has changed? Did you hire an agency?
We leveraged Harry’s code. It was pivotal time for us. In March of 2016, a month before we were launching the brand, we said, “We need to be able to launch to somebody, not just the women we garnered on Instagram.” We took their code and created a refer-a-friend campaign.
Everyone that gives an email address to wearlively.com gets a point towards their first purchase. Nobody knew how much the product was. They just knew that there was this brand launching that was inspired by wild hearts and boss brains. We sent it to 250 people. We got 100,000 emails in 48 hours and our servers crashed.
Instantly, we turned on customer service. Those first people that joined us for that one reason of image and copy were brand lovers. We needed to take every single word that they shared with us as marketing. We took all of their comments. “#needthis, where have you been? I think I could sleep in this bra. What does wild hearts, boss brains mean to you?” So forth.
We created our marketing off of them and started to bring them into the conversation until this day. The thing that was different two years ago in 2016, which doesn’t seem like a long time but does, if you think about how much the world has changed, we photographed a lot of these early consumers because we wanted to use them as our marketing.
We wanted to say, “We’re not going to use actual models. We’re going to use customers as our models.” What we saw was that worked on Instagram but it did not work on our website. The conversion rates were not there when we showed our community girls on our product pages and so forth.
We haven’t given up on that, so we continue to work with them and use that user-generated content and channel that felt native for that type of imagery.
Now, two years later, the world’s ready for that. They’re on our home page, they’re on our product pages, we show eight different body types and so forth. I’m telling you, two years ago, the world wasn’t working that way. What’s interesting is how marketing is evolving so quickly.
You think about Instagram, we didn’t even have InstaStories, we didn’t have tagging within the feed. Now, those channels are double digits in terms of revenue for us.
To answer your question, it’s just constantly being a step ahead and just being the customer, spending time with them. We’ve had over a hundred events with our customers since we’ve launched our brand. We’re constantly like, “What are you looking at? Why did you buy that? Where did you find that?”
Could you describe the structure of your marketing organization?
We’re very scrappy. When we launched the company, there were four of us. We had our creative director, graphic designer, a director of brand marketing who was in-charge of everything social and so forth, and a person that was hired to eventually do paid when we’re ready to paid but they were hired to do customer service first because if you don’t understand what your customer is saying, how can you create an ad or an asset that reflects that?
It’s just those four to begin with. Then we started to build out on brand right away. PR and community and events, that’s where the muscle of our company still lives. We’re still very small. We keep it tight and nimble so that we force ourselves to be really in it with our customer. We’re at about 20 employees, all female.
Brands are tapping into the ambassador strategy. How are you making sure that the ambassadors you engage talk about your brand in a consistent way?
It took us two years to figure it out, to be honest. That first year, we had 75 ambassadors. We were very focused on making sure that it was a consistent voice that they had. We would give them assets and we would give them copy to use to share. Because we’re not paying them—they’re just sharing our product.
What we realize then is that all of that manual DM-ing, and emailing and shipping was only allowing us to get to about a thousand ambassadors because of manpower. We created technology processes and workflows where we went from a thousand ambassadors in January to now 50,000 ambassadors about.
If you take your own user-generated content, we use a platform that we love called Pixlee where we can scrape all that user-generated content and decide what to push out.
What motivates the ambassadors to do this work?
That’s the key part: You have to be able to share that you’re not just asking to help them to help you but you’re helping them. Understanding what makes these women excited and energized and supportive of something is really important. That’s where the events came into play.
That’s where we were able to say, “It’s not just about a code you’re putting on your Link In Bio. It’s about being able to, one, come to these events, two, now start to host them, three, take over our Instagram, four, be positioned on our email newsletter, five, we’ll actually do a blog post for you, six, start telling us what to create. We’ll put your name on it.”
The theory was that the wave of DTC companies was going to destroy IRL retail. Instead, we’re seeing new experimentation with brick-and-mortar spaces and with partnerships. How has this played out for your brand?
I personally am really excited about retail right now. Things are happening so quickly that it’s showing great opportunity. We didn’t think that we were going to be ready for stores for quite some time nor did we think that we were going to be ready to partner with other retailers.
What we did know is that we had this community within the middle of the country, and so we needed to go and interact with them. We started going to Dallas and having events with them, which felt like, “Where do you hang out? This trendy bakery. Cool, we’ll do an even there. We love SoulCycle. Great, we’ll take over SoulCycle.”
As we were hanging out with them in these cities, we realize they don’t want us to leave. We started to do rev shares on leases. We would say to the landlord, “Let us come into your space. We’ll bring a lot of traffic and help you get your next long-term customer.”
We did that for two weeks. We thought we were going to get brand impressions. Not only did we get brand impressions, we also created ROI on that space. We started to see trend lines where in the city of Dallas, our online customer transactions would increase by 175% and in Dallas 80%.
Then we realized that every time those two to three-week events came time to close, we weren’t ready to leave. We opened our first retail store in SoHo, 224 Mulberry Street, for anyone who’s looking for a bra or a Lively experience. We call it a Lively Experience Store.
It’s 2700 square feet, which is really vast for a company of our size. If you come into the space, you’ll realize that only a third of the space is actually with racks and product and so forth. The bulk of the space is for our community to come together.
Last night, we had a book reading, which had about a hundred different women in there. This Sunday, we’re hosting a philanthropy event. We’ve had hip-hop classes, calligraphy. All the things that our customers love to do that have nothing to do with lingerie, that’s the rule.
The second rule is, what is it that she will do that will leave a euphoric impression where she just can’t help herself but use word of mouth to tell someone? I hung out with Lively last night, and this is what happened. Next question is, what’s Lively?
How does this experience in Manhattan inform the Dallas market?
What we do is we basically start to create trend lines again on what events drove the most impression. Is it a DIY? Is it something where she’s actually shopping and it’s a fitting room experience and so forth. Then we test that out in other markets and say, “Does that hold true?”
What we actually see is that customization by market is key. We started to have ambassadors within each community decide how we share and shout our brand. Nashville was more music-centric. Dallas is more mother-daughter family-oriented. New York is much faster and more so about what’s the latest and greatest.
Could you explain why are you partnering with established retailers?
One of our initial rules was no wholesale. We just felt that we wanted to control the experience, not just from how they learned about the product but how the product was shipped, the customer service behind it, and the whole experience.
Nordstrom actually approached us about three months after we launched and said, “Hey, we really want to carry your brand, along with other retailers.” We’re just like, “No, our baby is not ready to leave the nest. We can’t do that.”
They were the one partner that spent two years constantly coming back and spending the time to understand what it is that we wanted. Why no? What does brand experience mean to you?
Then they ended up sitting down with us. They said, “We’ll design a space for you. Where do you want to be?” We want to be by the escalators. We don’t want to be in the bra department. We want our own shop and shop. We want food and entertainment while consumers are there.
We just launched with Nordstrom in 11 doors for three months from September until December. Then we had the same conversation with Madewell because we saw that our customers had a very significant overlap with these brands, brands that span across the country, of course.
For them, we’re doing a digital beta and we’re learning about what our experience feels like with them. Again, now we’re able to still ship the product and control the customer service and so forth. We’re able to share with these partners what matters to us and they’re able to reciprocate and respect and support it.
What would you recommend to someone looking to build their own brand?
Be very human about it. Look at your emails and ask, ‘What would you normally say? What would you say to your friend? How would you describe your company to your sister or your mom?’
And don’t QA anything on a desktop. Look at everything on your phone. Everything should be looked at on a mobile environment. That tone and voice should be there. Eventually, it’s going to be not even emailing people, it would be DM-ing.
What would you say are the first steps to take in brand building?
First and foremost, you have to decide what your core values are. For me, first and foremost, it was conversation and ethos. I made the decision that if I was going to lean into the idea of a community, and really what that is is marketing, then a supply chain had to be not just taken care of, it had to be beyond taken care of.
I made sure that my first supplier was my investor, so that I had a factory around my brand that was launching where I had zero clue how many units I was going to sell but I knew that I needed a size range that could accommodate a conversation that was truly accessible.
If it was a product that had to be accessible in price, accessible in size and accessible in marketing, I needed to take all of my manpower and put that towards community, voice, tone and brand.
How important would customer service be for a brand as a marketing function?
For more from Michelle and similar inspiring retail pioneers, come see her speak at PSFK’s Future of Retail 2019 Conference, tickets available now.
Lead image: Lively via Facebook
via PSFK http://www.psfk.com/
December 28, 2018 at 12:09AM
Instagram Test Snafu Removes Scrolling Function From App
Instagram is testing a major change to its interface, switching the current scrolling interface to a swiping and tapping interface.
Consumers learned of the test after the company accidentally released it to a wide swath of its user base. The company reversed the release a few hours later.
The change, while it was live, was a dramatic one.
Instagram has its “stories” at the top of the app; a photo and video posts taking up the middle of the app. Users swipe up to scroll through posts from friends. In the test, users could only see one post at a time and had to swipe or tap right or left to move between them. Swiping up brought up comments on the post, while stories remained at the top of the screen.
On Twitter, head of Instagram Adam Mosseri responded to one user that it “was supposed to be a very small test that went broad by accident.” He told another: “Just a test that went to a few orders of magnitude more people than intended... sorry about that.”
Mosseri took over Instagram in October, following the departure of founders Kevin System and Mike Krieger. He had been vice president, product Instagram. Before that, he was vice president news feed, Facebook, Instagram’s parent company.
Changes to content feeds are among the most contentious for social networks. Every major change made by Facebook to its news feed, Twitter to its tweet feed, and Instagram to its content feed are closely scrutinized. Users often vent their frustrations after the changes happen.
Still, it is unusual for a test like the one carried out by Instagram, Facebook’s fastest-growing business unit, to be released by accident, giving consumers an early glimpse of what may be the app.
via MediaPost.com: mobile http://bit.ly/2oB2PsH
December 27, 2018 at 03:35PM
CarGurus Couple Become Brand 'Evangelists' In Latest Ad Version
CarGurus, the online car shopping service, is adding two new commercials for 2019, continuing to follow the couple who turned to the digital marketplace in the first ad of the series.
In that one, “Detective,” the husband is intently studying a wall plastered with car deals when his wife saunters in and offers to help him sort out the buying decision. Voila! She turns to CarGurus on her phone and quickly solves the dilemma.
The new ads, dubbed “Detective: The Story Continues” broaden the information about CarGurus to explain specific features, like its rating system for autos — from “Great” to “Overpriced” -- and its ability to zero in on cars in specific locales.
We meet the couple again in the “Parents” ad, where they tell his mom and dad about the CarGurus model they’re going to check out.
Dad suggests he “play hardball,” or that he come along to help his son create a devious good cop-bad cop team — two of the common, if fruitless, car-buying strategies CarGurus is designed to cut through. Mom says the SUV they’re looking at it would be big enough for a new family. Daughter-in-law deadpans, “Or dogs.”
A second ad, titled “Obvious,” shows the couple sipping coffee at an outdoor cafe, as a woman nearby watches cars go by and tries to sort out what she wants. The wife explains to her how CarGurus algorithms help streamline the shopping process.
Sara Welch, senior vice president of consumer marketing, says CarGurus considered a whole new approach until it saw how well the first ad worked. With the continuation, she says, the brand has turned the couple into “evangelists for CarGurus."
She adds, “We also wanted to respond to the ongoing strong interest in these characters and create new spots to follow their car shopping story further.”
CarGurus says aided and unaided brand awareness doubled since the first “Detective” ad. Based on Comscore data, the campaign helped CarGurus become the largest car shopping site in the U.S. as measured by unique monthly visitors. Using Google Analytics definitions, it grew its U.S. average monthly sessions 49% year-over-year in Q3 2018.
Welch says launching the campaign now makes sense for two reasons. “Q1 is very active for car shopping, with a peak of interest around Presidents’ Day,” she explains. “This is also quite an efficient time to buy media, since retailers have just wrapped their big holiday shopping push.”
CarGurus, via Ocean Media, is purchasing time across platforms from broadcast and cable to syndication and online. “We have quite a diverse base of customers, but certainly our online and mobile-first approach to car shopping has a particular appeal to millennial shoppers” — top of mind for the brand, Welch says.
The two new ads are the work of the Plum14 agency, Chirp Productions and director Nick Spooner.
According to the marketing firm AdTaxi, 86% of car shoppers go online to do research. The biggest percentage of them -- 32% -- start their buying experience at aggregators like CarGurus, Autotrader or Cars. com, among the many out there.
via MediaPost.com: mobile http://bit.ly/2oB2PsH
December 27, 2018 at 02:18PM
PSFK Retail Conference Preview: Dirty Lemon Founder On Beverage Innovation And Next-Generation Customer Loyalty
PSFK Retail Conference Preview: Dirty Lemon Founder On Beverage Innovation And Next-Generation Customer Loyalty
Before taking the stage at PSFK's upcoming Future of Retail Conference on January 16, Dirty Lemon founder and CEO Zak Normandin tells PSFK how he is pioneering a new kind of beverage brand built around strong customer relationships, seamless retail technology, and innovative product
Dirty Lemon is a different kind of beverage company. Without traditional retail partners or e-commerce, the millennial-friendly brand has built a dedicated community of customers—and a valuable collection of data. Originally available only ordered by the case via text, Dirty Lemon is quickly moving into brick-and-mortar retail, with a new space in New York’s TriBeCa neighborhood and future locations on the way. Using the honor system, the storefront operates on the existing text-to-order platform, while a VIP space in the back serves experimental cocktails to the company’s most loyal clients.
Ahead of his presentation at the Future of Retail 2019 Conference, January 16, PSFK caught up with founder and CEO Zak Normandin to better understand how Dirty Lemon maintains relationships with customers, plans to acquire new ones and what it means to stay ahead of the curve in the worlds of wellness and commercial beverages.
PSFK: Zak, could you tell me a bit about Dirty Lemon and what led you to found the company?
Zak Normandin: We started Dirty Lemon in 2015. And my past experience was in retail, or in food and beverage, but selling products into retail stores. I sold into Target and Whole Foods.
One of my frustrations was always the speed that it takes to get a product from the point of presenting it to a buyer through to getting it onto store shelves. So, Dirty Lemon, for me, was a response to a lot of the challenges I was having in connecting with consumers, and with the barrier of retail in the mix.
We developed Dirty Lemon as a direct-to-consumer beverage offering. We don’t sell into grocery stores. We have a direct connection with all of our customers through a platform that we developed, which allows the customers to place orders via text message.
That’s what we’ve been working on for the last three years, building out the platform to enable convenient, frictionless deliveries and access to our products for consumers.
The beverage products that we’re selling are all functional in nature. They have lemon juice, ocean minerals, and sea salt as the base. And then we add flavor and function profiles on top of that base to give it a purpose. We’re launching one beverage per month for the foreseeable future, so we have about a 30‑day innovation cycle. And we can launch products to consumers faster than they would be able to access them in stores.
Very cool. And how will you be deciding the next flavor of the month?
We’re identifying trends, really just by looking at the market. We just launched a CBD beverage—I’m sure you’re familiar with the buzz around CBD.
It’s, I think, our best. We partnered with high‑end cannabis brand, Beboe for that. And we are noticing that CBD was very popular and prevalent in a lot of food products, but it wasn’t really being used in beverages. Incorporating it into a beverage allows consumers to achieve the benefit of CBD without having to worry about mixing a tincture into a smoothie or whatever it may be.
Yeah. So we’re traveling, we’re talking to people that are leaders in their respective industries, within the food space. And that’s how where we’re identifying different beverages. This month, we’re launching turmeric, which has been around for a while. But it’s an incredible anti‑inflammatory, and it’s in an orange bottle which is very fitting for October, and Halloween.
Some of the ingredients are really progressive, like CBD. And some of them are a little bit more familiar to consumers. But all of our beverages have under 15 calories and less than one gram of sugar. We like to think of the product offering as an easy way for consumers to incorporate some of these ingredients into their lives, in a convenient way.
In what industry would you consider Dirty Lemon?
At our core, we’re a technology company. We have technology driving pretty much everything that we do, from acquisition of customers, through the process of delivering the product to you. The ordering process is all technology‑enabled.
But, of course, we’re also a beverage company. So the quality and overall presentation of the beverage is very high priority as well.
Then we’re also getting into retail so we have a core competency that we’re building in and curating like experiences around the physical space.
Can you tell me a little bit more about your approach with retail? I know that you have a development called the Drug Store.
We launched the Drug Store in Tribeca about a month ago. [It is] almost like a testing ground for new products.
It’s a full cocktail bar in the back part of the space. And then in the front part of the space, we have a grab-and-go cooler that holds a thousand bottles of Dirty Lemon, where customers can come and grab a bottle anytime. They just text us whenever they take a bottle. It’s all on the honor system.
In the background of the space, like I said, is a cocktail bar where we have bartenders making homemade versions of all of the Dirty Lemon beverages. Then you have the option to add alcohol into the drink. We have a mindset that most beverage trends start in either coffee shops or cocktail bars.
So a lot of the, a lot of the beverages that we create are inspired by some of that craft, and we want to showcase that for our customers outside of the digital space. But really, you know, retail for us is a way to market the products. We’re using retail as a marketing channel. We’re seeing a lot of volatility in the digital customization market.
So Facebook, Instagram, Google, are the channels that brands have relied on to acquire customers, but the marketplace is being flooded with advertisers now. So, we’re actually shifting all of our marketing spend to retail as our way of connecting with consumers.
We think that we can do that profitably with really great immersive content that we’re creating, with new products that we’re showcasing in those spaces and ultimately using that as a place to be able to test new products before they get into bottle format.
We’re launching four Drug Stores in 2019. Two are here in New York City and then we’re opening one in Chicago and Miami.
Who would you say is the Dirty Lemon customer and how are you reaching them, to get them into the store?
Our customer is predominantly female. It’s 80 percent female, 20 percent male. Our customers are, on average, 25 years of age to 45 years of age.
It’s very much a millennial consumer, who cares about wellness. Our consumer cares about the effect that food products have on their bodies, and the way that they look and they feel. I think that this sentiment is with most consumers now regardless of age. I think that people are generally just more aware of the things that they’re putting in their body.
We like to continue offering innovation in ingredients because we know that all of the ingredients that we’re using in our beverages have functional benefits that can contribute to a better healthier lifestyle.
I know how important transparency is and it sounds like you have an amazing list of ingredients. Are you sharing that information with your consumers?
We have, obviously, ingredient panels on the back of all the bottles. We also have a naturopath on staff to answer any questions that customers have about the products.
SMS is our primary channel of communication. Customers can text us any time and say, “What’s acerola?” and we’ll have a solid answer to provide them with medical backing because a lot of these ingredients have been used in the naturopathic space for a long time. But they’ve just been sitting on the bottom shelf of your natural food store. We’re bringing them to be kind of the main focal point of each of these beverages.
For the texting experience, is it a chatbot, or is there somebody behind the text?
We do have a bot that’s on the front end of the system. We acquired a company earlier this year that is actually the world’s best chatbot. That was a Webby that they won last year. We purchased a product, a company called Poncho, which is a conversational weather bot. We use the NLP [neuro-linguistic programming] that they developed for that product to strengthen the front end of our bot.
So if you ask a question to the system or if you try to place an order for, let’s say, two cases of our rose beverage, and you write that in as a text message, you’ll get a response back from the bot confirming, “You’d like two cases of rose?”
“Yes,” you say, and confirm it. And then the order is placed without the assistance of a human. If you ask any questions that are outside of the logic that we created on the front end, it gets pushed to live customer service.
We have 24/7 live customer service everywhere in the US, and quickly expanding. We’ll have a warehouse open later this year in the UK, and we’ll be offering that same level of quality and service to customers outside of the US as well.
That’s amazing. Do you have any plans of incorporating new technologies in the brick-and-mortar stores?
Yes. At our retail locations, the only way to purchase products is with our text platform. So there is no cash, no credit cards. In the front part of the space, you grab a bottle. You text us and tell us what you took, and we charge your card on file, or we send you a link to enter your credit card information. But the cashier is on your phone.
Everything is processed at your convenience. A lot of people grab a bottle when they’re on their way to work in the morning, and then text us when they’re at their desk. That’s the level of convenience that we know our customers are looking for in a brand, and not only from us but just from brands in general.
They want convenient, easy access to brands and to new products, or the products that they’re buying frequently.
In the back part of the space it’s specifically for our VIP customers. VIP is like our subscription program. [They] buy at least one case of Dirty Lemon every month, so they also get a discount. They get $20 off if they commit to buying one case a month. When you go into the back part of the space, we ask for your last name. And then we confirm your account with the last four digits of your phone number.
Then when you’re done checking out for the night, it’ll say, “Thank you for coming to the drugstore. Today your total is $20. Would you like to leave a tip?”
And you’ll write it in via text message. Let’s say your tip is $5, it’ll say, “Your total today is $25. Would you like to charge your card on file?” And you say yes, and that’s it. Then you walk out of the drugstore.
Ultimately, what we’re doing is we’re building a data set around consumption behavior in the beverage space, which allows us to better serve our customers. All of the data that we’re collecting and everything that we’re doing with technology is really with the intention of providing a better, more streamlined experience for consumers to enjoy the brand that we’ve built.
That’s really impressive. Are you concerned at all about, the front aspect of the store—security‑wise? Customers not abiding by the texting?
We’ve had the drugstore open for a couple of months now, and the amount of theft is extremely small. Under five% of all bottles leaving are not paid for.
And I think the bottles that are leaving the space that aren’t paid for, it’s actually probably more about its confusion on the part of the consumer, and less about them actually wanting to steal the product. So we’re not concerned about that.
We specifically chose the location, Tribeca, because we have a lot of customers there. We built a really incredible community of customers. The people that are going everyday to pick up a bottle of Dirty Lemon, they’re hyperconnected to the brand, and we just have a lot of trust in that relationship. It’s never really been a concern for us.
But we really didn’t know for sure until we opened and now having some data to back up that thought process where we’re not concerned at all about theft being an issue.
And, to that, how are you strategizing to build community with and around your brand?
Now retail is our channel to build community. We launched the brand on Instagram. We’ve engaged with consumers predominantly in the digital space for the last two and a half years.
We’re finally at a place now where digital really is a commodity. I mean, every brand is on Instagram. And there’s a lot of content. Being a brand on Instagram just isn’t what it used to be. So we’re shifting.
I think it’s interesting because there’s really a pendulum that’s swinging, where there’s a lot of brands that have historically relied on retail that are now trying to acquire customers by investing brands in digital. Then, as that’s happening, we’re actually starting to shift to retail where we think the biggest opportunity is. Consumers want to be immersed in the brands that they like most. They don’t want to just engage with them over a digital format.
I think people are generally spending less time online and more time just like in actual human dialogue and connection with other people, face‑to‑face and not with a screen in front of you. I know that that’s probably counter to what a lot of data is showing, which is that everyone’s online and hyperconnected. But I think we’re just so desensitized to content. I think people just want to get back to this real, authentic connection. And, thankfully, we have that with SMS.
Even though it’s over digital format, we do have that deep connection with customers. Retail for us is a way for us to do that in an even more immersive way.
Could you tell me, where do you see Dirty Lemon scaling over the next three to five years? How does the future look to you?
We’re going to continue innovating in beverage. We’re expanding in retail, of course. But the big vision for the company is to really use all these data points and all these places that we’re collecting data to potentially launch other beverage concepts underneath one platform.
We’re using technology to drive the business, and we’re expanding our reach too. I think Europe is a really exciting opportunity, and our path to Europe is through London. We’re opening up a warehouse and a production facility there shortly.
And just continuing to stay ahead of the curve, whether it be innovative marketing, or new beverage concepts. We’ve done a really good job of executing and always being one step ahead with all of our products.
We’re the first charcoal beverage to be sold nationally. A lot of juice shops were doing it back in 2015, but we sold it to a national audience. We were the first collagen beverage on the market. Now, people are buying tubs of collagen to mix into things. It wasn’t like that then. Same thing with CBD. These are the things that we just need to stay on top of and make sure that we’re never just doing what everyone else is doing. I always want to be pushing the boundaries and looking at things through a different lens.
Do you think that you would be willing to wholesale partner with third party retailers in the future, given your past experience?
We’ll never sell our products into grocery stores. But we’re selling into high‑end hospitality channels, so mostly hotels, coffee shops. We look at those opportunities as profitable customer acquisition channels.
For a lot of people that have seen the brand, maybe on Instagram or their friends have purchased it or whatever, it’s a place for them to be able to buy one single bottle without having to commit to a case. So it’s a great trial scenario.
It seems like there’s so much opportunity as all these different industries are shifting towards the wellness market.
I think these are the products that consumers are looking for.
We built this brand around balance and not having to sacrifice and those are the core principles that really define the Dirty Lemon brand. I think that naturally fits really well into wholesale, especially in the more of a food‑service type environment.
The way that we look at it is: if you’re going to overindulge on calories or sugar, it should be with a dessert or an extra glass of wine or something that you’re going to really enjoy. But to have an extra 200 calories and 25 or 30 grams of sugar with your lunch, it just doesn’t makes sense.
via PSFK http://www.psfk.com/
December 27, 2018 at 12:02PM
Apple Attracts Android Users With iPhone XR
For the 30 days following the launch of the iPhone XR in October 2018, Apple has managed to attract more Android users to its phone in the United States.
A study from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) found that the new iPhone XR accounted for 32% of total U.S. iPhone sales during that time, while the combination of the XS and the XS Max accounted for 35%.
Mike Levin, CIRP Partner and co-founder, believes that while Apple doesn’t provides detail about its launch strategy, based on pricing and features he can infer that Apple positioned the iPhone XR to appeal to potential operating systems switchers from Android.
"The data does not really reveal why, specifically, Android users switch to an iPhone or why iPhone users stay with an iPhone," Levin wrote in an email to MediaPost. "The data isn’t even clear about why consumers decide to buy a new phone instead of keeping an old phone."
He wrote that phones have about a 2.5-year replacement cycle -- an increase over the duration of almost two years that was standard before carriers ended subsidies. And the time period does not differ significantly between Android and iOS users.
It's not clear whether advertising influences the decision to upgrade, because CIRP did not ask consumers about their exposure to ads, but the price for the XR is substantially less than the iPhone X. The XR starts at about $449.
The switch also will likely not affect the number of consumers searching on Google. The search company, Google, reportedly paid Apple $9 billion in 2018 and $12 billion in 2019 to remain as Safari’s default search engine.
The research firm based the findings on its survey of 165 U.S. Apple customers who purchased an iPhone within the 30 days following the launch of iPhone XR.
Still, most of the upgrades came from iPhone buyers. In fact 82% had previously owned an iPhone. About 16% of new users upgraded from an Android phone. At the November 2017 launch of iPhone X, 86% upgraded from an iPhone, and 11% upgraded from Android.
Following the September 2017 launch of iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and before the iPhone X was available, 87% upgraded from an iPhone, while 12% upgraded from Android, according to the report.
iPhone shipments during the third quarter of 2018 fell 6% -- the first time in seven years that Apple didn’t take one of the top spots.
During the third quarter of 2018, smartphone manufacturers shipped 355.2 million devices worldwide -- down from 377.8 million units in the year-ago quarter.
In the third quarter, Apple took 13.2% market share, coming in at No. 3 behind Samsung and Huawei.
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December 27, 2018 at 11:55AM
Digital Brilliance: New L2 Report Cites Walmart, J. Crew, Nike
With 2018 almost in the books, Gartner L2 pored over a years’ worth of Intelligence Reports to discover the brands with the winningest digital strategies.
Using a two-dimensional grid, it analyzed 600 brands in 14 sectors, identifying smart trends — and smarter brands — in a variety of categories.
Omnichannel was an important trend, says Mike Froggatt, a director on L2’s Intelligence Team. “With increased pressure from Amazon, physical stores are becoming a competitive advantage.”
The retailers thriving most in a channel-agnostic world are those optimizing the size of their physical footprint and using cannier digital marketing and fulfillment strategies, he tells Marketing Daily. And while these were once the purview of Warby Parker, Away and other digital-first brands, traditional retailers are now nailing these strategies, he says.
Some 52% of the retail brands L2 analyzed beefed up digital channels and in-store experiences throughout the year. About 42% have only improved in one domain, while 6% are stuck in neutral.
Among the best performers? Walgreens and Walmart, which Froggatt says is “constantly testing and learning with its app, turning it into an even bigger payment service than Apple Pay.”
In evaluating content and commerce, L2 points out that marketers seem just as overwhelmed as consumers. Standout brands are able to create content that is both streamlined enough that it works on mobile, and detailed enough that it helps people make better shopping decisions.
Froggatt says content is increasingly important in driving search results. “One of our key takeaways is that when people come to branded websites through social visits, they spend more time there than if they came from organic search. That means a higher level of engagement.”
One power player is J. Crew, which he says excels at using personalized email not just as marketing, but content, too, highlighting new arrivals in a way that boosts the open rate.
Nike also earns high praise, blending content with loyalty in NikePlus, based on customer data. “They moved away from that purely transactional relationship to one that is experiential,” Froggatt says.
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December 27, 2018 at 11:55AM