By Robin Lewis
It can be said that the US consumer marketplace has gone through three major disruptions over the past century. Beginning circa 1900, it was the Industrial Revolution. Then around 1950, a Marketing Revolution began. And in the early 2000s, the Technology Revolution was born, and is still exploding. Each one of these disruptive periods was (and still is in the case of the Technology Revolution) driven by awesome new commercial tools. And each provided consumers with more, new, better, cheaper and faster goods and services and brands.
A Brief Review
In the marketplace of yore (turn of the last century), there was a myriad of siloed functions forming the entire value chain, from product, brand or service creation to the final silo of retailing as point of sale (“POS”). “Silo” defines the fact that all of these functions operated independently, performing one function like distribution, passing the product along to the warehouse silo, then on to the store, etc. and so forth. It was a sequential vs. a simultaneously integrated value chain. It was an orderly but lengthy and costly process. But all was “hunky-dory.” Since the economy was growing like crazy, and there was more demand than supply to go around, people had to accept what they could get. Henry Ford once said, “consumers can have whatever color Model T they want as long as it’s black.”
Retailing was the land of opportunity where one could get rich and live happily-ever-after…until the tsunami and it wasn’t.
Supply caught up with demand in the middle of the last century, bordering on supplying more stuff than could be consumed. As a result, purveyors of goods and services had to figure out how to create higher demand to lure consumers to their products away from competitors. Thus, the era of sophisticated and powerful marketing and communications and its infrastructure was born. This was the heyday of broadcast networks and TV, national magazines, and new marketing media of all kinds, including the explosion of brands. Indeed, it became the Golden Age of advertising with Mad Men ruling the day.
It was still orderly, but a much more costly and complex process from the silo of source to consumption. But it worked. Between 1950 and 1980, the US had the most explosive growth in history, anywhere on earth.
It was during this period of marketing supremacy that thousands of the mightiest brands and retailers in the world were either launched (Volkswagen, Ralph Lauren, Walmart, etc.) or catapulted out of their past into a much larger future (Levi Jeans, Sears, Campbell’s Soup, etc.).
Now we are at the beginning of the Technology Revolution with a radically disrupted marketplace that is still changing almost daily. We can only begin to envision an entirely transformed commercial and consumer interface just beyond the horizon. We may look back in the future and say that this tech disruptive period was even more powerful than the Industrial and Marketing Revolutions combined.
Ironically, while all three revolutions combined are providing consumer-facing businesses greater competitive power and control over their market spaces, they are also providing consumers the ultimate power of unlimited and instantaneous access to whatever they desire, and for an accessible price. So, the bars for marketing, brands and brand loyalty, personalized and entertaining experiences — including engaging community gatherings and social interactivity — have all been exponentially raised. Consumers expect this new, higher standard because they can.
Shoptalk Teaches a New Standard
Shoptalk keeps evolving its educational content and will be providing numerous real-time marketing innovations from both emerging businesses and brands, plus from old-world brands and retailers who have transformed their models to succeed.
Go there to learn. It will exceed your expectations.
By Zia Daniell Wigder
Below are just a few of the sessions at Shoptalk that will address marketing and loyalty—and the speakers you’ll hear from on each one:
The C-Suite on the Future of Marketing
Executives at the forefront of marketing innovation are finding their jobs more complex than ever. While most executives now have substantial consumer data at their disposal and the ability to target customers in real time, they are also dealing with a high degree of media fragmentation and intense competition for customer attention. In this session, we’ll hear from a direct-to-consumer startup and a brand:
- Direct-to-consumer startup UNTUCKit turned the idea that men could look good wearing an untucked shirt into a recognizable brand. The six-year-old company, which has raised $30 million in funding, started off advertising its products on low-cost platforms like sports radio shows where men couldn’t even see the product. Now, having run a stream of TV commercials, opened 25 brick-and-mortar stores, and launched both women’s and children’s lines, the company is known as a marketing leader among direct-to-consumer startups. The Co-Founder and CEO will share the techniques and technologies UNTUCKit used to build its brand from scratch, as well as the changes he sees for the future of brand marketing.
- Despite competing in a crowded category, Moroccanoil, a pioneer of oil infused beauty, has grown into a recognizable, iconic brand in less than a decade. Now sold in over 65 countries, the brand continues to invest in building its brand by increasing its presence online and through social media channels. That includes a YouTube campaign inspired by its female founder, through which fellow women leaders shared their stories. The CEO will share the marketing strategies that are proving most successful in winning over customers for Moroccanoil, as well as how she plans to build on the brand’s momentum to drive future growth. She’ll also discuss how the brand is using data and technology to break through to customers in a fragmented media environment.
Building Engaged Communities
Creating and sustaining a deep emotional connection between a brand and a consumer isn’t easy, but those brands that succeed in building their own community benefit through having an active group of consumers who engage around a common interest or passion. In this session, we’ll hear from one direct-to-consumer startup and two established brands that have excelled in establishing a loyal, engaged customer base:
- Five-year-old LoveCrafts is a UK-based crafting hub that combines a social network, marketplace and ecommerce. The startup has raised $61 million to build a community where millions of members can find inspiration, get advice, buy supplies and share their creations. The platform allows members to follow other crafters and buy or submit designs for knitting and crocheting. It’s now building its network by expanding into new categories and growing internationally. The Founder and CEO will share how LoveCrafts is thriving by connecting a group of consumers with shared interests and pursuing community as a core business strategy.
- Fourteen-year-old e.l.f. Beauty has created a community of “makeup enthusiasts” who love experimenting with the latest beauty products and techniques–these shoppers have been drawn to e.l.f.’s low-cost, first-to-mass products across eyes, lips, face, tools, and skin care. Much of e.l.f.’s success can be attributed to the authentic brand it has built by eschewing celebrity spokesmodels and traditional ads and instead featuring real customers on social platforms. The brand also incorporates shoppers’ feedback into its fast-cycle product innovations, offers new products on its own website and in e.l.f. stores, then deciding which products to roll out to its network of retail partners based on reviews and sales. The VP of Brand will talk about all the ways e.l.f. is building an engaged community of shoppers.
- Eleven-year-old Aerie, a sister brand of American Eagle, offers intimates, apparel, activewear and swim collections, and has avoided the pitfalls that plagued many of its competitors in the teen apparel space. The label’s sales have grown consistently over the last four years, reaching more than 10 percent of its parent company’s $3.6 billion in revenue. Aerie banned the use of airbrushed models back in 2014 and continues to advocate for self-love, empowerment and body positivity among women. The Global Brand President will share how Aerie created a brand that encourages women of all shapes and sizes, as well as how it maintains an authentic voice that resonates with customers, including teens and their parents.
Many of today’s leading marketers are moving beyond standard marketing tactics to embrace new types of customer engagement. Marketing executives are finding creative ways to raise awareness of their brands and engage shoppers by launching new offerings that range from popup shops to social media contests and games. In this session, we’ll hear from one startup, one tech giant and one established retailer:
- Zola has raised over $40 million for its all-in-one registry and wedding planning website that caters to the modern bride. To build on the experience it has created online, the four-year-old company has also launched a series of popup shops that replicate an engaged couple’s home for customers to envision products in a real-life setting. Zola has also put its popup shops on wheels, sending a decked-out vintage camper to cities across the US–couples can register for items and record their own love stories in the camper. The Founder and CEO will share how Zola is using these popup shops to create memorable experiences for its customers.
- Google Zoo is a creative think tank that sits inside Google. The team at Google Zoo is tasked with finding innovative ways for brands and agencies to leverage Google’s technologies to create new experiences for shoppers. The Head of Creative and New Experiences at Google Zoo will share some of the ways major global brands are tapping into Google’s broad range of capabilities in strategic, creative, and intelligent ways to interact with both shoppers and advertisers.
- JOANN Stores, the country’s leading fabric and craft specialty retailer, has inspired the creative spirit in its customers for 75 years. The retailer hosts events across its network of 850 stores where customers can learn skills like sewing and cake decorating, gather for a Girl Scouts meeting or birthday party, or meet local makers at handmade pop-up shops. JOANN recently doubled down on this strategy through its acquisition of Creativebug, a six-year-old company that has created more than 1,000 educational crafting videos. The VP of Marketing and Business Development will discuss all the ways JOANN is using experiential marketing tactics to drive engagement with customers.
Building a Global Digital Brand
Digital advertising and ecommerce are the growth engines of marketing and retail, with companies increasingly turning to digital channels to build brand awareness, educate consumers about products and services and convert shoppers into buyers. In this session, we’ll hear from two digital leaders: One from the world’s largest social network and the other from one of the world’s largest global personal computer manufacturers:
- Lenovo is a $43 billion brand of personal computers and other electronics based in China and the U.S. We’ll hear from the VP and GM of Global Ecommerce at Lenovo who manages the global team and is responsible for digital marketing and ecommerce at the company. In his talk on Measurable Creativity: Can Data Make Us More Creative?, he’ll discuss how data and measurement are disrupting the market and how businesses engage customers. And with Lenovo.com operating in 80+ countries and reaching one billion people each year, he’ll also discuss how he’s built his team to support a digital organization of this size and highlight how the company has used extensive data and deep consumer insights to market and sell to consumers in all areas of the globe.
- In this session, the Global Head of eCommerce & Retail Strategy at Facebook will highlight some of the most effective campaigns to date and discuss how retailers are increasingly using the platform to build their brand and to create new purchase intent and consideration. He’ll present recent advances in Facebook’s options for retailers and brands such as enhanced video capabilities to showcase products, and the ability to target consumers based on households rather than just individually.
In addition, check out other sessions on the Shoptalk agenda that tackle this topic such as AI in Marketing and our session on the Grocerytalk track that looks at Next Generation Loyalty.