At WGSN’s latest Auckland trend summit, head of market intelligence Lorna Hall declared that 2016 is “the year of consumer-lead communication.” She says that as technology and customers mature, the retail industry is responding to that convergence with creative marketing strategies which include ‘chat-vertising’, advanced storytelling and more.
‘Chat-vertising’ refers to the growing presence of retail brands on messaging apps. Kik, Snapchat, and WhatsApp in the US; Kakaotalk in South Korea and WeChat in China are all increasingly attractive spaces for brands to talk directly with customers using chatbots.
The messaging apps are a very intimate form of marketing and thus build brand engagement, says Hall, but there has been some kickback: “There’s an early feeling, much like there was with with Facebook, that we shouldn’t be trying to sell things with messaging apps.”
Hall offers Taco Bell on Snapchat as a great example of how brands can do this well. She says 80 percent of users open Taco Bell’s snaps, and the company uses workplace messageboard Slack too.
Harking back to her talk on luxury trends and exclusivity, Hall offers Everlane’s private Instagram account for its “superbuyers” as an example of retailers doing chatvertising well. The account diligently responds to messages, and feeds users a steady supply of quality behind-the-scenes images. Its Snapchat feed is “brilliant” too – and doesn’t always feature product.
“This is really a trend we’re noticing in content marketing,” says Hall. “Nothing about the brand. Content for content’s sake.”
More and more, she says, brands are investing in original content which attracts users on its own merits. Users are growing tired of being marketed to and won’t notice marketing content unless it contains something they want to engage with.
“Break through ad exhaustion by creating original content, not obstructing it,” Hall says.
Nike’s ‘Margot vs Lily’ series was one example she presented – the video series has a plot, and follows a Millennial-friendly ‘fitspo’ narrative. The only brand angle is that some of the clothes the characters can be shopped.
“They just want you to watch it,” Hall says. “It’s the non-direct sell.”
Hall sees potential for apparel brands to release their lookbook in video format, narrative and all: “How many young New Zealand filmmakers would just jump to collaborate with you on something like this?”
‘Story-doing’ is another buzzword covered in Hall’s marketing presentation. Essentially, it refers to user-generated content, such as Footlocker’s #playmytweet campaign. In this campaign, social media users submitted requests which were written on basketballs. If sports stars failed to sink a ball, they had to carry out the request written on it.
Campaigns devised in response to data can lack a “human” element, but when they’re combined with cultural insights, brands can achieve remarkable cut-through.
Hall’s favourite of these was a Japanese campaign from Kit Kat. The company’s ad agency noticed that its chocolate bar had become a common gift for students during exam season because in Japanese, its name sounded similar to “kittu katsu” or “We will surely win.” The result of this inspiration was a mailable package which, when opened and combined with the user’s smartphone, played a hologram performance of a boy-band singing a supportive message.