Shifts in luxury brand engagement #luxurybrands

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I’ve been lucky enough to work with some amazing luxury brands in my career including Jaguar and now on Johnnie Walker’s ‘Step Inside the Circuit’ F1 sponsorship at iris.

In a world where brands traditionally place a premium on exclusivity and timelessness, we’re seeing brands’ luxury status being defined by their ability to deliver innovative theatrical experiences.  How many different projection mapping efforts have we seen over the past 2 years? Some of the best being Lexus’ Trace Your Road real life video game and Design Disrupted but it’s now pretty standard for brands to play here to bring their rich stories to life.

The social revolution has changed the way luxury brands now bring new products to market. Brands like Burberry have embraced a ‘digital first’ ethos as spend 60% of their marketing budget on digitally integrated brand experiences, content platforms and retail initiatives. Making exclusive inclusive is fundamental in creating luxury brands with high levels of engagement.

There are some fundamental shifts going on that luxury brands need to consider.

1. Brands are no longer the arbiters of luxury, consumers, bloggers, platforms  are

For a long time, luxe brands have resisted forms of crowd-sourcing for fear of losing control of the brand’s visual identity, and the exclusiveness. But we’re seeing more and more brands collaborate, co-create with their target audience…albeit in more controlled scenarios. Louis Vuitton Journey Awards short film competition is a great example.

Luxe brands need sophisticated social commerce strategies which tap into the insight that people today are using social platforms like Pinterest to curate their ideal luxury lifestyle and purchase products. Chanel has the strongest presence on Pinterest despite not having an account. It’s photos are pinned more than any other brand in the world. Studies suggest that Pinterest directs more traffic to ecommerce sites than Facebook and Twitter combined.

2. Wealth is now determined by experiences more than material possessions.

People are seeking self fulfillment over status symbols as a general rule. According to a BCG study in 2012, experiential purchases (art, travel, leisure) account for over 55% of global luxe market and is growing 50% faster than luxury goods.

3. Interactive storytelling is essential in driving engagement, consumers want to ‘know’ more than ‘own’

Brands like Burberry and Audi are pioneering new immersive retail experiences adding depth and personalisation to the product discovery process. Physical and digital are  one in the same. It’s more than just creating dreamy luxury fantasies, but often service based utilities that bring to life the rational side of the brand or make purchasing easy are equally powerful in the networked age.

4. Time is the ultimate in luxury

Today more than ever ‘the time to experience products and experiences’ is seen as more than a status symbol than the accumulation of money. Traditionally eastern cultures have worshipped the currency as a display of wealth, but with the growth of the Chinese middle class and CVET, BRIC luxury consumers, time is to experience luxury is the ultimate display of wealth.

Some great recent examples of innovative uses of digital to create engagement and sales include:

Dianne Von Furstenberg #shopthehangout

Gucci Virtual Store

Luxe brands creating superlative, tech driven experiences will set themselves up for success in the ever evolving digital age with a new generation of luxury consumer navigating brands very differently to affluent baby boomers.

Digital platform overview: Facebook = ‘Who I am’ VS Instagram = ‘How I see the world’

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There are many points of view online on the different roles of social platforms to consider when developing your social strategy. Clearly there also hundreds of different social & digital platforms, but I thought i’d share a snapshot on consumer uses of some of the main ones, plus mobile & search. Here’s a quick visual to give you a perspective on some of the consumer uses of the major digital platforms, hopefully helping you define how you’d like to use those social platform to create a meaningful relationship with consumers. This was created/built off some work my great colleagues at Iris NYC (thanks Esty :). The key takeout is to ensure you understand different consumer drivers for use of those channels and employ KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) when engaging in these channels. eg: Facebook is primarily about identity creation for the individual (sharing their life, engaging in conversations which build their real and digital identity) whereas Instagram is really about self expression. Different motivations, different brand uses.

SXSW Interactive 2013 Summary: 7 key themes that matter to marketers

SXSW Interactive 2013 Wordle

Trying to synthesise hundreds of SXSW sessions into a handful of key takeouts accurately reflecting the current digital zeitgeist is a little challenging. Based on my experiences I’ve pulled out what I believe are some of the most relevant themes for brands looking to leverage digital today and tomorrow.

1. Hardware is Hot

Hardware is hot right now. The innovation race is centred around how developers and brands can bring game changing hardware to market, cheaply. From affordable 3D printing like MakerBot’s 3D Digitizer, Ouya’s Android’s TV gaming console to Google’s Talking Shoe and Augment Reality Glass concept.

2. Physicalisation of Digital Experiences (Tangible Keepsakes)

In a world where digital innovation has rapidly been occurring over the past decade, dematerialisation has taken place as physical items have been movedinto the ever elusive cloud.  However, while we as humans appreciate the benefits and advancements of digital technology, we’re now beginning to see a return towards tangible goods using the very same digital technology that has helped remove them from our lives. There’s a big opportunity for brands who are able to converge the two if they’re able to create products that link the emotions we attach to items in the digital space to the physical forefront. Stitchtagram a perfect example of this trend.

3. Humans as the New Interface

The future of design will use the Human body as the ultimate interface. As we struggle to cram more stuff on our screens, the real innovation is happening in or around the human body. Whether it’s intuitive gesture based tech like Leap Motion, programmable clothing or embedded technology actually in our skins, brands gazing into the future will be designing brand experiences in or around the body.

4. Think Psychology before Technology

It’s an obvious one, but brands wanting to create circulation (‘viral’ has officially been blacklisted)of their ideas or content need to start with the psychology of why people use or share a service or idea, not with the platform or technology. It goes back to basic needstate driven marketing, but is so important in a world where we’re screening out non useful tech.

5. Hack your brand

Hacking your brand by opening up your API to crowdsourced development and iteration is not a new concept in the USA. But for Aussie marketers it may come across as a destructive concept, it’s actually extremely constructive if done well. It’s about opening up your brand. 2013 will be the year where 24hr Hacksessions and real time creativity become more mainstream and marketers look to agency partners to deliver solutions (particularly NPD) to big problems quickly.

6. Feedforward not feedback technology

In today’s world of big data, we have the ability to create immediate feedback based on real time data. Think RFID sensors, NFC.  When people understand what they’ve just done, it influences their next decision. Marketers need to leverage Feed Forward technology; guiding consumers to make better decisions by providing the right info at the right time in the right context, intuitively.

7. Always On = Always Now

In our latest global study, Planet Hyperconnected we saw an emerging cultural trend that the ability to be always on and digitally connected wasdriven by a desire to always be IN the moment.  Here at SXSW, this theory was proved further as speakers such as Chris Risdon’s “Behavioral Change as a Value Proposition” and eBay’s Steve Yankovich talked about how in this constant era of connectivity brands need to capitalise on people’s motivation in the moment.

That’s my wrap for SXSW 2013, looking forward to resting my brain after the last intense yet stimulating five days and seeing if 3D printing goes nuts in Australia.

SXSW Day 4: Sharing Hate, slow content, living data, embedded tech and tangible keepsakes

SXSW Interactive day 4 was about getting in touch with my geeky side. I wanted to spend some time today attending sessions and exhibits from way out there tech futurists and try and get a glimpse of what’s around the corner. I also wanted to see if there were some digital counter trends to balance the 600,000 mentions in social media of the word ‘Innovate’ so far during the conference.

Here are my Day 4 SXSW Interactive 2013 highlights:

Forget ‘Liking it’, ‘Hate it’

Sometimes things just annoy the hell out of you and you want to share it with the world. Now there’s an app for that.  The most buzzed about app of Day 4 was an app called Hater where you can share what you hate on social networks. It’s like Instagram for everything you hate.  Watch out duck face selfie’s, celebs and politicians this could be a hit.

Slow Content in a Hyper-connected world

In today’s hyper-connected world where everyone is seeking an always now existence, brands are looking to deliver real time snackable content to cater for our ever diminishing attention spans. Today Margot Bloomstein offered a counter trend with her  ‘content strategy for slow experiences’ session.

Slow content aims to slow down users, focus their attention, get them exploring whilst helping them act more deliberately in the moment. It’s not a content approach for every brand, but it’s perfect for those looking to create a deeper brand narrative and genuinely invite consumers in. Patagonia creates slow content experiences, delivering deep long form content, rich copy, rich in detail with total transparency – the good and the bad.

Unlike Amazon-type etailers where speed through checkout is the goal, slow content helps the customer make the right choice, not just a choice. Ikea is doing this really well. Brands looking to demonstrate their passion and purpose should think about a slow content approach.

Living Data predicting the future

We all seem to agree that big data is sexy, if used the right way it can solve many of the world’s problems.  Filtering the signal from the noise is the big challenge for marketers. Futurist Bryon Reese’ ‘Algorithms optimize Human existence’ session went into fascinating (although somewhat scary) detail about the potential for using big data and tech to improve the quality of life.

We’re headed to a world where everything we do (behaviour, speech, thoughts) will be digitally recorded (and perfectly remembered), creating a digital record of your life. But more than the record, the data can be analysed, collecting every cause and effect and developing solutions.  Surveillance state you say? Maybe.

Reese believes “Everybody’s life will become action and data to make others’ lives better“. Significant stuff.

The brands of tomorrow need to look at how they can use, what I call, Living Data to identify patterns and then deliver utility that help people help each other.

Embedded technology making Humans the new interface

As digital devices get smaller they will get more embedded into our lives, literally. A session called ‘The Human Body is the next interface’ explored the future reality whereby embedding micro machines inside the human body will happen.

Pharma and healthcare industries could be the most innovative marketers in the world in the next few years. He referenced several fascinating scenarios. Imagine a baby in a cot, with the blanket containing embedded Nano tech. The blanket senses skin temp, alpha waves, pulse and other vitals, the blanket then releases medicine for baby based on signals from embedded tech. Closer on the horizon are bras that detect signs of breast cancer.

It’s not all life saving preventative tech though.  Programmable clothing is not as far away as you might think. French brand Lacoste recently celebrated their 80yr anniversary with this ‘Future of Polo’ programmable clothing piece. Pretty cool possibilities.

Forget Minority Report type stuff. The Human body is the next interface.

Tangible Keepsakes born from a digital world

Brands can get obsessed with creating digital stuff, as we’re constantly told that’s where and how people live. ‘Embracing Analog’ a session run by Ann Mack, Paul Woolmington and Frank Rose offered an alternative point of view. Their research into the current digital need states of Americans, from Millennials to the Grey market, identified that people are craving sensory appeal in a digital world. Woolmington states; “We want something to have and hold – we crave the tactile and like to ignite the senses.”

It would seem people today miss memories in a physical form. Interestingly, 73% of Americans want to turn digital memories into physical ones.  People are wanting “tangible keepsakes” from their digi experiences. They want to preserve things that have emotional value to them.  Brands like Stitchtagram who turn Instagram pics into handmade pillows and bags are all over this trend. Brands need to think about how they create branded memories that exist both digitally and physically.

So, one more day of digital love, Tacos, start up tech parties and speeches before the 25hr journey home.

SXSW Day 3 highlights: Talking Shoes, feedforward tech and being tip of tongue

Jetlag subsided, now it’s just a case of dealing with hangovers from 6th Street parties, Tex Mex overload and power chord rage as 70,000 people fight to keep the energy bars of their laptops, mobiles and tablets full charged. I’m surprised the lights are still on in the city to be honest.  Day 3 at SXSW was intense; I managed to attend quite a few presentations, some pretty awesome, some quite disappointing.

Here are my highlights from Day 3:

Wearable tech goes motivational: Google’s Talking Shoe

I’ve been waiting for a jaw-dropping piece of tech to brag about on my Facebook wall. Look no further, it’s Google’s Talking shoe, in collaboration with adidas. It’s an experiment to show how wearable tech can tell inspiring stories for people via the web, and to flog its new advertising platform called Art, Copy and Code. It’s tech with a bit of personality e.g.: if you’re running fast it cheers you on.  Using a small computer, accelerometer, pressure sensor, a gyroscope and Bluetooth the kicks tell the person wearing them what they are doing (or aren’t doing) and can relay that information to their smartphone via a speaker in the tongue of the shoe. Another example of wearable technology being somewhat seamlessly introduced into our lives.

Check out this hype vid.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcaSwxbRkcE

From Feedback to Feedforward technology

Interesting, yet very academic session called ‘Behaviour Change as Value Proposition’ by Chris Robson explored into the role technology plays in driving behavior change. Obviously a massively diverse topic, but much of the conversation the last few years has been around ‘Feedback’ sensors such as RFID tags and GPS devices providing valuable input to people and brands. The future is all about ‘Feedforward’ technologies intuitively guiding my next option at the point of decision. Chris’ example of going into Subway and Feedforward geo location tech being able to help you decide between cookies or a 12 inch sub by providing calorie info on your mobile in real time.  Google Now is a great example of a Feedforward utility proving real time answer almost preempting a consumer need. Shopper marketers take note as new opportunities emerge to provide intuitive value exchange at the point of purchase that’s.

Top of mind means tip of tongue

Everyone here at a SXSW will claim they’re a bit of a social media guru and know the secret recipe for creating sticky and shareable content. You gotta call BS on a fair few of them. Was refreshing to listen to a Wharton Professor, Jonah Berger talk about his latest book ‘Contagious: why things catch on’ covering the 6 psychological principles for why people share. Sounds obvious, but marketers should focus on the psychology not technology of sharing. Jonah quoted the fact that only 7% of WOM happens online and wanted the word ‘Influencers’ banned, as there was no empirical proof of influencer impact on decision making over the long term. Marketers should focus on the message not the messenger. I’m rather skeptical of this influencer bashing as I’ve seen Influencer strategy work extremely well to increase both reach and engagement, surely all people aren’t created equal in their ability to influence others right?

So the key to contagion or ‘acts of circulation’ as network guru Henry Jenkins calls it?

Making audiences feel like insiders, sharing a secret is key to Social Currency. It’s the first of several “STEPPS” that also include Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories, which, if incorporated, can make any product or idea contagious.

Secondly, if something is ‘top of mind, it’s tip of tongue’. Referring to the need for brands to create trigger cues such as contextual names; Meow Mix cat food, natural associations e.g.: Peanut AND Jelly. Rebecca Black’s appalling YouTube Sensation ‘It’s Friday’ has continued to drive mass views on Fridays due to it’s title and contextual trigger of the word Friday.

Unsurprisingly, high arousal emotions drive people to share: humour, anger, fear, and sympathy. Brands need to create what he calls ‘Trojan Horses’, brand assets that could only be from your brand.  “Trojan Horses carry something along for the ride – the message a brand wants to get across in the middle’.

Fortune favours the Networked Mind

The last talk of the day, ‘The New Serendipity’ had some gold dust in it in regards to brands thinking about innovation. Having a beginners mind, reaching out like a child to meet new friends, learn new things and stop looking in the same places is the key to innovation. It’s kind of like a mantra for SXSW, you’ll come across more innovation in the queues talking to random people you meet. I’ll leave you with this John Perry Barlow wisdom bomb ‘Fortune favours the networked mind’.

So Yes, Google stole the show today with their Talking Shoe, but I did leave the conference inspired and looking for my moment of serendipity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SXSW 2013 Day 1 Highlights

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Just survived Day 1 of South by Southwest (SXSW), the annual interactive conference in Austin Texas that’s known for being the Launchpad for all things cool in the digital world like Twitter.

Before I get into the Day 1 highlights, it must be said that this place is absolutely crazy, with 70,000 people expected to be here over the next four days and every second person claiming they’re a ‘social media guru’, I’ve never seen so many people glued to Twitter as they race to share the inspiration. But, I’ve been warned by a few seasoned SXSWesters to keep my wits about me, sniffing out real digital and social innovation from BS can be the biggest challenge with over 5,000 speakers.

Here are my top 3 highlights from Day 1 action:

1. 3D printing is the next Industrial Revolution

 SXSW is known for amazing technology being released. Today Bre Pettis launched the MakerBotDigitizer 3D scanner, which can scan a physical item like a garden gnome and record its precise 3D rendering. Forget printing objects, with his latest invention, Pettis let’s anyone scan and print physical objects in 3D.  We’ve all heard about 3D printing but this innovation brings amazing new possibilities for brands to create highly participatory and personalized experiences for consumers. As Bre states:

“MakerBot is leading the next industrial revolution, and we are empowering everyday people to make stuff””


2. Think Omni Channel marketing, forget the silos

 The world of mobile is always an interesting discussion topic. Australia has a smartphone penetration of almost 65% so I thought I better check out the OMMA session, ‘Is mobile a branding vehicle?’. The answer. Yes.

Brands need to forget the online vs. offline debate, as people have media experiences, not channel ones and mobile devices are the ultimate access point. Consumers are living Omni channel lives so marketers have to stop thinking in media and channel silos (forget buzzwords like SOLOMO) and start ensuring that brand experiences flow seamlessly throughout. Remember, people don’t watch the web, they participate in it and mobile devices facilitate and enhance that. And when planning content for multiple devices think three things: Personal. Adaptable. Social.

 3. Empowering people in the Age of Damage

 Havas Global CEO, David Jones @davidjoneshavas spoke about the ‘Age Of Damage’ where brands like BP have been brought to their knees via social media backlash. Brands need to shift from a focus on profit to a focus on social purpose. Whilst the industrial revolution empowered companies; the social revolution has empowered people with ability to either pull down your brand or build it up. Brands don’t get to dictate their image anymore, so they need to focus on transparency, authenticity and speed in bringing their social good to the world. They also need to shift from mass communication to thinking about how they can leverage a ‘mass of communicators’ to share and advocate their brands. The Rainforest Alliance, an example of a brand that’s done authenticity and storytelling brilliantly.

 

 And to finish off my day, there’s no shortage of fun to be had amongst the digital craziness. Stumbled across this ping-pong tournament happening at the Hilton Hotel set up by Pongrock. I won a few rounds but was no match for a developer from Brooklyn who tells me he ‘lives for code and pong’. Tune in tomorrow or follow me @danpankraz for more digital inspiration from SXSW

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adidas NEO collab with Justin Bieber:: #FindmyGoldShoes contest

Proud of this little participation program our team put together for Adidas’ new teen fashion label NEO and their collaboration with Justin Bieber. If you’re a Belieber, then you’re gonna go nuts over the ‘Find my Gold SHoes’ contest here that’s live on Facebook. Big ups to Adi team at Iris Worldwide.