MarketingSquad Marketing Squad Sun, 01 Sep 2019 01:34:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MarketingSquad 32 32 22975190 Omnipresence in the Marketing Landscape. What You Need to Know Mon, 23 Sep 2019 16:00:39 +0000 The world will continue to digitally develop. Therefore, the concept of omnipresence​ marketing is an essential strategy for your businesses. Do you want to...

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The world will continue to digitally develop. Therefore, the concept of omnipresence​ marketing is an essential strategy for your businesses.

Do you want to compete in the digital age? Then you need to achieve omnipresence by providing multiple channels of interaction between yourself and your consumer.

To utilize this digital change will mean stronger relationships with consumers. This flows from allowing them to interact with your brand in real-time.

Omnipresence focuses heavily on augmented reality and social media. These are the technologies which should be integrated with your traditional strategies.

Now, companies like Domino’s have realized this and are experimenting with tools such as AI, and platforms like Alexa, Twitter, Snapchat, and more.

Omnipresence means meeting customers on the channels they’re on

With most time spent on digital channels, you must meet your customers on where they’re comfortable. Furthermore, to attract a variety of customers, you must use various digital technologies. These can be leveraged to heighten the overall customer experience.

Omnipresence will benefit your brand and improve overall customer experiences. This is because an omnichannel strategy enables users to engage with your brand more thoroughly. Thus, creating a more memorable experience.

Your omnichannel strategy can include a variety of channels. For example; e-commerce, mobile applications, social media, and physical locations. These options will engage customers on multiple platforms throughout their decision journey.

Domino’s provides a perfect example of how to execute omnipresence and the value of it in today’s age.

We see from the AnyWare Campaign, Domino’s integrates itself across all potential customer touchpoints. In doing so, it allows purchasing across all platforms and devices consumers are using.

Increasing customer value through innovation

Domino’s excels at leveraging digital technologies in its marketing efforts. As a result of its strides at the forefront of new technologies, it has built deep relationships with its customers. Through building these relationships

In the last decade, Domino’s has seen a shift. From cheap delivery option to a company which is involved in every aspect of their consumers’ life. In doing so, they have shown that omnipresence in marketing is one of the key ways to stand out in the digital age.

Through technology, you augment your product offering. This can be through greater accessibility, convenience, or responsiveness. These benefits of omnipresence all improve customer experience.

Being available at all times

Consumers are now connected whether they are working, playing music, tweeting, and much more. This means your service has to be accessible on every platform. To make your product available immediately.

Using omnipresence in marketing has huge results. For example, Domino’s is now the leading pizza delivery service. Below, we see their Anyware Campaign explained further

Shifting to voice recognition

The future is in voice recognition. This is shown by Domino’s launching a feature allowing customers to place mobile orders through a virtual ordering assistant, Dom. This was a way to personalize the ordering process, removing the barrier of online ordering platforms.

With AI, you can ditch traditional purchasing methods and facilitate a true conversation with your company. This is just one of the many ways AI is changing the way marketers think about their products.

Embracing immediacy

Immediacy is everything in today’s marketing landscape – it can make all the difference when customers have a range of substitute options. Thus, omnipresence is the key to competing in the crowded landscape of today’s marketing world.

As seen, being accessible on all platforms will take you to the next level. Whether a product or service, you’ll move from a product offering to an integrated part of your customer’s life.

Keeping up

It is vital to stay in touch with the rising digital innovations and advancements that brands are using; whether you’re a marketing guru, educator, marketing student, or an interested consumer.

Augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and omnipresence are key elements of the marketing mix. So, as we continue on in 2019, pay attention to the trends discussed in this article. On top of this, work to integrate these strategies into your own marketing mix.

This post was written by Alex Weinstein, Olivia Vanhoy, Alice Mayoral, and Katie Lovelace. The authors thank Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz for their help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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Product branding. How to make your marketing hotter. Mon, 16 Sep 2019 16:00:08 +0000 More brands than ever are entering the market. Strong product branding will help you not get washed away in the digital age. Quality, community,...

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More brands than ever are entering the market. Strong product branding will help you not get washed away in the digital age. Quality, community, and open-source branding will help you stand out.

The following framework will help put your brand at the forefront of consumers’ minds. Hydro Flask, a company that manufactures insulated water bottles, has shown the way.

Product branding starts with quality

Your high-quality brand should be based on a promise to consumers. From here, continually meet this promise to cultivate trust.

Hydro Flask established itself as a top-quality brand from the start. By stressing the integrity of both the product and the brand they built a brand – and product – people trust.

Hydro Flask's product branding emphasizes quality.

Your promise sets the foundation of your brand-customer relationship. One way to build trust in quality is through a warranty. This tells customers that you have confidence in the quality of your products.

A quality product alone won’t build a successful brand. It can help, however, to encourage consumers to engage with you – producing open-source content.

Encouraging user-generated content

Creating a high-quality product is just a start! From here you want consumers to interact with your brand. Successful product branding invokes positive connotations with the product amongst your target market.

Hydro Flask uses user-generated content to support their social media feed. Engaging hashtags encourage customers to strive to be a part of the brand.

When consumers willingly post content with your product you earn advocacy among their social followers. Also, by re-posting consumer content, you earn trust and show authenticity to your tribe.

“User-generated content IS the most important foundation of successful product branding.”

User-generated content IS the most important foundation of successful product branding. You should actively engage consumers and position them at the core of your brand.

Transparency in marketing

To create an authentic brand, you must be transparent with your consumers. This allows customers to feel confident that you are genuine in your values.

Consumers are curious and can find most anything about a brand via the internet.

But, you can use this to your advantage. Learn to embrace transparency, and you will stand out amongst competitors and secure loyal customers too.

56% of people say they would stay loyal to a brand for life it was completely transparent. On top of this, 73% say they would pay more for a product that was completely transparent. Talk is cheap and consumers want to put their money with a brand who sincerely shares their values.

Hydro Flask puts a big focus on transparency. They have established themselves as an environmentally friendly brand and stayed consistent. This shows the importance of truly embracing your brand values.  

Take notes from Hydro-Flask and illustrate to consumers that your brand image is authentic. You will gain their trust and advocacy!

Relationships are crucial

Relationships are everything. You can no longer rely on just functional attributes. Take additional steps to create loyal customers. Form emotional bonds with consumers by aligning with consumer’s identities.

But how can you achieve this?

Like any healthy, strong relationship, it takes work! The first step you can take is self-reflection. You must deeply and authentically know your brand purpose. Knowing your brand purpose allows you to stand for something bigger than products!

Taking a stance and elevating a product to be something more is priceless! People want to connect with a brand. So stand for something, have a purpose, and your brand advocates will come. Lastly, stay true to your purpose!

When you know your purpose, and every action upholds that purpose, you will see your relationships grow.

Their product branding focuses on attracting high quality user-generated content.

Creating Community

You can’t just form relationships with your customers. It is important to facilitate relationships between customers, too. Hydro flask targets micro-communities that share the same values.

To be successful at product branding you must form relationships between customers, too.
Hydroflask lets customers bond over shared interests.

Hydro Flask sponsors and hosts events for their micro-tribes to engage with the product and other customers.

By having an authentic purpose, Hydro Flask has been able to bring people together who share similar lifestyles and ideologies.

So remember, know your brand purpose, form relationships with your consumers, and go that extra step to facilitate relationships between them.

Product Branding goes beyond the product.

In today’s marketing world, you can’t rely solely on advertising. You need to also ensure that the message resonates with consumers’ ideologies.

You must go beyond simply looking at the functional attributes of a product. Come up with something that resonates with your target audience.

Offer quality, community, open-source, and relationships in your product branding. And you can build an authentic image that is never lukewarm.

This post was written by Jacqueline Pederson, Brooke Peters, Lauren Ralston,and Mia Siri. The authors thank Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz for their help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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How to Defeat Industry Giants in the Digital Era: Micro-tribal marketing Mon, 15 Jul 2019 16:00:52 +0000 Micro-tribal marketing builds loyalty by offering users experiences. This is especially true since the digital disruption. What we now see are digitally native brands...

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Micro-tribal marketing builds loyalty by offering users experiences. This is especially true since the digital disruption. What we now see are digitally native brands turning entire industries on their heads by offering hyper-tailored customer experiences.

Alo Yoga is a great example: Through micro-tribal marketing, Alo Yoga is able to compete with established ‘top dog’ Lululemon.

In this article, we offer three key tips for successful micro-tribal marketing. Encourage user-generated content, facilitate your micro-tribe and create a sense of community.

Emerging brands once had a hard time going head-to-head with existing giants. With micro-tribal marketing, that no longer has to be true.

Encourage User-Generated Content

One of Alo’s most prominent methods of tribal marketing is encouraging user-generated content. They enhance consumers’ experience with things like a weekly ​Alo Challenge.​ ​

Interactive challenges, however, do more than gain exposure for a brand; they create a shared experience between customers. Brands can create spaces for users to find other users, and to bond with the brand, creating a community.

Alo Challenges inspire customers to interact with the brand on social media.
Alo Challenges inspire customers to interact with the brand on social media.

The results of an interactive challenge can be incredible. For Alo, they often generate more than 1,300 pieces of user-generated content. This exchange between brand and consumer reinforces their connection and further builds loyalty.

In contrast, brands like Lululemon rely on paid ​ambassadors. While ambassadors help to achieve reach, they can compromise a brand’s ability to develop sincere bonds with its tribe.

Alo Yoga has fully welcomed their micro-tribe into the brand.

Through sacrificing control of their image, they acquire something​ ​much more worthwhile: consumers feeling deeply invested in the brand.

Incorporating interactive activities with your products offers an intrinsic reward for engaging with the brand. To succeed at micro-tribal marketing, you must give users a platform to interact with each other, and with your brand.

Helping Your Customer Reach Their Goals

Alo customers have another opportunity to interact with the brand through its ​YouTube Channel. ​YouTube can enhance a brand’s offering, with complementary material beyond the product itself.

Alo caters perfectly to the elite yogi micro-tribe, offering valuable experiences in exchange for subscribers.

To penetrate an already competitive market, you must focus on depth before breadth. Successful micro-tribal marketing focuses on the most specific communities possible. This allows you in the door, to start earning advocacy and user-generated content.

Below is an example of a free class offered on Alo Yoga’s YouTube account.

Alo Yoga has 174,000 YouTube subscribers, more than double Lululemon’s.

Creating Community

An even stronger way to differentiate oneself is through a paid subscription package. Alo Moves is a more in-depth version of their YouTube channel.

The small financial investment required ensures continual engagement.

Alo offers a subscription to enhance user experience and increase engagement.
Alo offers a subscription to enhance user experience and increase engagement.

In this way, they have created a paid social media platform. This use of tribal marketing empowers customers to connect with one another. It can take you beyond a brand, so customers view you as an outlet for expression.

Successful tribal marketing can take your brand and product far beyond functional benefits. Offerings like apps, supplemental materials, and community platforms enhance the value of a product.

These add-ons deepen a customers’ connection with you, helping you to stay relevant in the digital age.


Micro-Tribal Marketing and Your Brand

When it comes to micro-tribal marketing, Alo Yoga is at the forefront of the movement.

The disruption of industry giants is likely to continue due to digital and new media marketing. Alo Yoga and others are creating invaluable shared experiences that cannot be replicated.

If your brand can do the same, you’ll find it is possible to survive​—​and thrive​—​against the “top dog” in your industry.

This post was written by Carly Auerbach, Eunice Lee, Clare McCarthy,and Olivia Nelson. The authors thank Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz for their help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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How to Win at Lifestyle Branding: a Look at Los Sundays Mon, 01 Jul 2019 16:00:18 +0000 From the outside, Los Sundays are just another tequila company. For its consumers, though, Los Sundays is an important part of what makes them,...

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From the outside, Los Sundays are just another tequila company. For its consumers, though, Los Sundays is an important part of what makes them, well… them.

Which means that for marketers, Los Sundays is the perfect example of lifestyle branding that can teach us a lot about how brands can create unique connections with their target markets.

Los Sundays was founded with the core values of “Quality, Originality, and Style”. And every detail – from the name and high-quality product to their exceptional tribal marketing and use of consumer-generated-content – stands out in a crowded market.

Let’s take a closer look at how these ingredients can help transform your own into a lifestyle.

The Product

The brand was born after its founders discovered a 100% Blue Weber Agave in Mexico. From that moment, the company took off. With the fast development of the product, the brand came to life. It grew around elements of the Southern California lifestyle.

Passion and original style became embedded in every single aspect of the brand. Today, this goes far beyond their uniquely flavored bottles of tequila.

The product comes as all products should. Supplemented with additional offerings. Buying a bottle of Los Sundays means you get your tequila served with content and merchandise as a side garnish.

Your company should also go beyond just goods. Offering content and services to enrich customers lives, helping build their connection to your brand, for instance. Engaging in lifestyle branding in this way you will earn you trust and advocacy from your customers.

“Tequila Kills The Boredom”

“Tequila Kills The Boredom” is written on all Los Sundays’ merchandise. Here they make a jab at alcohol not being the healthiest choice, but still, suggest it is a good one.

Los Sundays' brand focuses around the phrase "tequila kills the boredom".
Los Sundays’ brand focuses around the phrase “tequila kills the boredom”.

Their wordplay implies that drinking Los Sundays’ tequila will ‘kill’ anyone’s boredom. This aligns with their community’s inherent desire for fun.

The idea of “killing boredom” evokes a customer’s desire for rebellious excitement. This is the feeling the founders had while bringing their dream to life.

Wearing the brand’s merchandise gives customers the opportunity and the confidence to pursue that feeling. This bonds them to an irreplaceable tribal identity. Los Sundays’ lifestyle branding is centered around “tequila kills the boredom”. They keep the message consistent and central throughout campaigns.

To become a successful lifestyle brand you must offer consumers a way to express themselves. Your role goes beyond transactions and sees you help your customer to be themselves.

Emotional and resonating content

Los Sundays have a tribal following on its social platforms. They take a unique approach on Instagram, in particular.

The Los Sundays brand successfully captures all sides of its target market by maintaining two unique Instagram accounts: @los_sundays and @aboutlastsunday.

The Los Sundays Instagram account is a product-driven feed that showcases their offerings through stylized photos. The About Last Sunday account, however, takes a completely different Approach. They use consumer-generated content and storytelling to build deep and authentic connections with their customers.

With these two accounts, Los Sundays followers get the opportunity to see Los Sunday’s branded content. More importantly, though, to engage with the Los Sundays’ lifestyle branding.

One of few posts on About Last Sunday featuring their product.
One of few posts on About Last Sunday featuring their product.

Despite both accounts being run by Los Sundays, About Last Sunday rarely displays their tequila products. Instead, the feed is made up of photos from Los Sundays consumers.

The re-posting of photos from their tribe strengthens the bond between their followers and the brand.

What does this all mean in terms of lifestyle branding? Not only do you have to empower consumers to express themselves, but as a lifestyle brand, you must interact with consumers. By leaning on consumer-generated content you foster a genuine connection between your company and the consumers.

Creating Community

Los Sundays create an authentic community by targeting a very specific tribe: Millennials that embody the Southern California lifestyle. This is a group that sets out to enjoy everyday life and love to indulge in high-quality goods and experiences. With intimate storytelling, Los Sundays are able to portray a lifestyle that people want to be part of.

Consumers drink the product, wear the merchandise, and attend Los Sundays sponsored events. Being involved in the Los Sundays lifestyle creates community.

This sense of gaining access to a community by participating in the brand lifestyle increases buy-in.

Los Sundays’ inside track creates a deeply connected brand community. They show that creating a community is the final ingredient to creating a successful lifestyle brand.

About Last Sunday

With their original product, unique merchandise, and tightknit community, Los Sundays are taking the lead in today’s digital marketing.

Los Sundays show us the way to build a successful and intimate lifestyle brand. High-quality product, value-added content, and a strong sense of community around the brand.

This post was written by Aleks Ruplenas and Kerstin Steiger. The authors thank Dr. Joachim Scholz for his guidance in writing this article, and Archie Mitchell for his help in editing this article. Please follow MKTGsquad and the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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How to engage millennials and why Taco Bell gets it right Mon, 03 Jun 2019 16:00:41 +0000 I have this one friend on Twitter, they’re the best. I’ll bet you have at least one friend like them too. They tell jokes,...

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I have this one friend on Twitter, they’re the best. I’ll bet you have at least one friend like them too.

They tell jokes, they know their life is a mess and aren’t afraid to embrace it, they know they aren’t creating world peace and they aren’t afraid to admit it. They posted one tweet that had me laughing for 10 minutes.

My friend is a taco…

Taco Bell offers far more to engage with millennials than cheap and easy food.

Well more specifically, Taco Bell.

Taco Bell isn’t competing to stand up for social causes like Nike or Gillette. They instead focus on creating relatable content to engage millennials. They distribute content on platforms where consumers can engage and interact with their brand.

Taco Bell has brand intimacy because of their ability to follow and adopt millennial trends. This allows them to appear in people’s minds as a “cool friend”, providing them with stories and memes rather than advertisements.

They use honest, transparent, and engaging marketing across multiple platforms to develop their brand authenticity.

Below: we will discuss their presence on Reddit, the Taco emoji campaign, and their voice on social media, particularly Twitter to show how your company can engage millennials and stay relevant in 2019.

Engaging with millennials – Twitter.

Successful branding in 2019 means making connections. That can be by taking a stance on social issues or taking a stab at your competitors. But the content most likely to engage Millenials? Humor.

Taco Bell creates brand authenticity with its philosophy of not taking itself too seriously, meaning it is perceived as a friend as opposed to a brand.

Taco Bell engages with millennials by targeting other brands on Twitter
Taco Bell claps back at Old Spice in a playful interaction.

Generally, when HuffPost says they want to be your best friend, you’re getting something right. Taco Bell shows us: by inserting yourself in the right spaces, you can prove you are in tune with millennial culture.

Tweeting about Mean Girls, Taco Bell presents itself as a fan, relating with the Mean Girls fans of the world. Clapping back at Old Spice, Taco Bell presents itself as human and shows it too can be sassy and facetious.

Through sending gifts to customers, it leverages its social relevance to earn advocacy from users. This includes everyday users to influencers with up to 600,000 followers.

Taco Bell’s authentic branding is evident in every tweet.  

So how can you stick out to consumers as a friend rather than a brand? Stay light-hearted, actively respond to critiques, and keep up to date with trends and tastes.

The Taco Emoji

Taco Bell uses the emoji trend to engage with millennials
Taco Bell utilizes the emoji trend to engage with customers.

One of Taco Bell’s most remarkable feats is recognizing the increasing dependence on Emojis across society. On June 17th, 2015, the taco was inducted into Unicode’s set of emojis. This was because Taco Bell ran a petition on which reached 32,687 signatures.

Taco Bell used its perception as a casual brand. Leveraging a usually serious medium to talk about an almost comedic issue.

Not only did they reach 10s of thousands through and secure the bragging rights associated with creating an emoji. Taco Bell earned huge amounts of engagement on Twitter. Users could tweet Taco Bell to combine two emojis into one (as shown below). Taco Bell would respond with a creation from its emoji engine.

Watch to see how Taco Bell created an emoji to engage with millennial smartphone users.

Taco Bell caused a spike in user engagement on Twitter. Being able to directly interact with the corporation’s official Twitter account builds personability and relatability.

Also, they turn core fans into influencers, leveraging their accounts to spread advocacy and build trust.

Millennials resonate far more with influencers than traditional marketing.

Traditional marketers design campaigns to display product value. However, for Taco Bell, marketing means ​creating ​value by delivering meaningful content to consumers.

In short, marketing shouldn’t be about the product, but about the connection people feel to your brand.

Taco Bell on Reddit

Reddit has historically been unfriendly to brands, being considered by CNBC to have the least valuable users.

So, instead of trying to seek ways to advertise to redditors, Taco Bell breaks the cycle, giving Redditors what they need – something to talk about. Users in r/TacoBell can find discussion about the restaurant, memes, and frequent posts of user’s meals.

Reddit is a close-knit community of people sharing information and opinions. Its users are skeptical. Consequently, to gain acceptance into the Reddit community, a brand must give control to the user.

Taco Bell steps back and allows users to steer the conversation, resulting in unconventional earned media in the form of memes.

Redditor u/_crunchwrap_ uses Taco Bell as a meme in r/TacoBell.

Taco Bell’s designated subreddit hosts a community of people who feel connected to what the brand shares. It dwarfs competitors, like Wendy’s and Burger King, with 41,000 subscribers.

Taco Bell is authentic in the media it distributes whilst others get sniffed out and torn apart for lackluster endorsements of social causes (Pepsi). On the contrary, Taco Bell inspires users to share and spoof the content they create.

Top posts on Taco Bell’s subreddit show that to achieve acceptance into a tightknit community, a brand must be willing to be memed by its users.

For example, by not taking yourself too seriously, you can thrive by handing users content and allowing them to repurpose and distribute it as they like.

Taco Bell on Snapchat

Snapchat is seeing huge growth and offers the perfect outlet for interactive content. Taco Bell is taking advantage of the new ‘social networking app of millennials‘ by allowing them to depict themselves as Tacos through augmented reality.

To engage millennials Taco Bell used AR and Snapchat.
See how users depict themselves as Tacos through AR.

Snapchat saw its company record for most views in a day smashed by Taco Bell‘s 2016 sponsored lens campaign. The company uses flexible and funny content to engage millennials and allows them the freedom to create what they want to share.

Taco Bell, engaging millennials.

Taco Bell takes up a meaningful spot in its customers lives by deliberately not taking itself too seriously. Its honest and authentic marketing gives users control over how they interact with the brand, allowing it to engage millennials in online communities like Twitter and Reddit.

You can engage millennials by being honest with yourself and your customers. By claiming to have the best products or pretending to be fighting for the social causes they care about you expose yourself to scrutiny. However, by providing users with valuable content you allow yourself to become a part of a community.

This post was written by Cindy Flores and Blake Axtell. The post was edited by Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz. Please contact the authors for more information on this topic.

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How can you survive the digital disruption? Maybe listen to Spotify… Mon, 06 May 2019 21:07:15 +0000 The digital disruption has shattered the foundations of many industries. Entire sectors relating to news (Huffington post, Medium), transportation (Uber, Lyft), and travel (AirBnB,...

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The digital disruption has shattered the foundations of many industries. Entire sectors relating to news (Huffington post, Medium), transportation (Uber, Lyft), and travel (AirBnB, Tripadvisor) were transformed once the rules of the game had changed. Whether you are an established company or a newcomer, you probably ask yourself: How can we thrive in this new competitive landscape? To answer this question, it’s worth listening to Spotify… and seeing what they have done.

One of the earliest victims of the digital disruption were the ways that we listen to music. Before streaming, music was expensive and consumers often had little control over what they listened to. Now, music is everywhere and people can access any song, any time.

This is great for consumers, but for the music industry, it posed a serious question: How does one compete in a competitive landscape where your primary product has become an easily-accessed, ubiquitous commodity?

Spotify’s answer: be about more than just music. When you sign up for Spotify you enter a global community of users expressing themselves through the music they love. Whether it’s sharing via social media, adding friends within the app, or integration into the world’s most popular dating apps, Spotify has made music streaming not just about listening, but about expressing yourself.

To survive the digital disruption and even thrive, a company has to be consumer-oriented and empower its users. Spotify does this in three different ways: It is a tool for fans of even the most niche genres to share their tastes in global communities. Second, Spotify facilitates conversations between artists and listeners to connect with music in more meaningful ways. And last, through integration into the world’s most popular social media apps, Spotify helps consumers to express themselves, whilst simultaneously generating huge amounts of earned media.

Letting the user define popular

Spotify’s ability to ride the digital disruption has largely hinged on how it has harnessed the rise of social media. Before smartphones, social media and streaming, music sharing between a group of friends relied on in-person interactions: Groups of friends would meet up to share and exchange mixtapes.

Spotify used the power of social media to transform your local group of friends into a global community around niche music tastes.  What we see now is a landscape where each social group is represented with artists from genres from Afrobashment to Danish rap, with Spotify encouraging and empowering users to express themselves and forge relationships based on music.

The digital disruption has allowed Spotify to take advantage in the rise of genres like Afrobeat.

Before the digital disruption, which songs made it to the top of the charts was decided by big label companies. Now, individual users define what’s popular by sharing their favorite songs. And as global access to social media and streaming services grows, world music is experiencing a boom.

As Spotify’s head of Global Cultures explains: “We have a new music-industry landscape which is much more diverse than it could have possibly been before.” The norm today is handing power over what’s popular to the consumer, allowing everyone to find the music that resonates with them.

Creating Conversations

Another part of Spotify’s strategy is to facilitate multidirectional conversations between users and artists. Spotify enables artists to directly interact with subscribers through Instagram and Facebook, and it also offers the option to follow your favorite artists. These features have spawned a rise in boutique labels representing artists not necessarily primed for the Billboard charts.

“Spotify empowers a new generation of musicians who prosper by making deep connections with more concentrated fan bases”

Spotify’s features make it possible for a new generation of musicians to prosper by making deep connections with more concentrated fan bases. The ability for artists to link listeners directly to Spotify from their Instagram and Facebook stories, Spotify’s social features such as adding friends and following artists, and Spotify’s integration into Messenger and iMessage allow users to find artists with whom they connect more deeply and build meaningful connections with friends and followers based on this.

Artists now rely on social media to form connections with their fans beyond music. With these followers actively seeking out their content, artists can move away from invasive advertisements to promote new music and instead drive users straight to their discography using stories.

Artists build intimate relationships with fans on social media to distribute music.

Your own business might not be about music, but you can apply the same principle: Stay away from the traditional focus of reach and mass marketing, and instead empower members of a certain tribe (often centered around a niche activity or taste) to share and connect with others in more meaningful ways. By taking this customer-oriented stance, your business can not only survive the digital disruption but even thrive.

Turning Customers Into Influencers

Spotify empowers users to express themselves through their integration with Instagram, Facebook Messenger and iMessage, Tinder and Bumble, and even the development of their own built-in social media functions.

Spotify has done all it can to make expressing yourself as easy as possible to create buzz and leverage its users across all social media platforms. A prime example of this is Spotify’s integration with Facebook and Instagram:

The digital disruption has made listening to music as much about interacting with your friends and followers as hearing your favorite songs. At the touch of a button, users can share songs, albums, or playlists to their Facebook and Instagram stories directly from within the app.

Spotify uses innovative features to use the digital disruption to its advantage.

Spotify thus shifts its entire value proposition from “these are the songs we offer”, to “here’s how we help you build and maintain social connections”. In every industry we see that users don’t want the ‘perfect’ product, they want the product that’s perfect for them – Spotify provides each user a totally personalized experience, allowing them to paint a totally customized picture of themselves to their friends and followers.

Integration into dating apps, as well as some of the in-app social features turns users from passive consumers into active ones. Users can send songs directly within the Spotify app, check out what others are listening to, and even work on collaborative playlists.

Expressing oneself isn’t something that should be fenced in, and Spotify knows that. They collaborate with Bumble and Tinder to provide users another way to express themselves. The ‘top songs and artists’ features on these dating apps further encourage users to build and grow relationships based on the music tastes they share. Spotify’s risqué integration into these apps is emblematic of its strategy to create conversations and empower users to express themselves through music.

Spotify uses the digital disruption to to generate mass earned media.

Beyond the user, these features help Spotify, too. Empowering users to share their experience creates earned media, consumer advocacy, and user-generated content. Another reason for why enabling conversations is key for surviving the digital transformation.

A prime example of this is the Spotify Wrapped campaign. At the end of each year, users are provided a detailed rundown of the songs, artists, and amount of music they listened. Spotify encourages users to share their stats on social media, and many do because it’s an expression of themselves. Spotify’s 2016 wrapped campaign received over 1500 pieces of news coverage, generated 1.2 billion earned impressions, and over 1 billion streams.

Sounds intriguing? View the explainer below with the statistics described at 1:37.

In essence, Spotify creates content tailored for consumers to share on their social media feeds. For your own business, you can ask yourself: Why do people use our service or buy our products? What value, beyond the functional value of our offerings, do we provide? Once you identified this (e.g., expressing yourself), you can come up with similar ideas of how you can leverage customer insights to create tailored content that your customers will want to share with their friends.

Survive the digital disruption by redefining your product

All this cross conversation between Spotify’s users and artists doesn’t just build an incredibly strong sense of community, it creates a platform for self-expression and a tool for creating connections. Spotify’s leveraging of social media, as we can see, is pivotal to its marketing efforts, essentially utilizing its multi-million subscriber base as micro-influencers. This is crucial in building advocates for the brand and building trust for those considering signing up for a subscription.

Spotify offers all you ever want from a music streaming service: An extensive catalog, affordable pricing, and hi-fi audio all. But more than just these basic table stakes, Spotify recognizes that expressing oneself lies at the core of the music listening experience. The ability to find one’s community, to engage in multidirectional conversations, and to express oneself through music even outside the Spotify app all create a service that goes beyond the music itself.

To survive the digital disruption, Spotify has taken a fully customer-oriented approach. And as we can see, it’s paying off.

This post was written by Archie Mitchell and Dr. Joachim Scholz. The authors thank Alexis Ardito and Maxwell Motley for their help in compiling research for this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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Brand meaning comes alive with augmented reality Fri, 01 Jun 2018 13:06:24 +0000 The most powerful brands in the world have one thing in common — strong brand meaning. Nike encourages consumers to “just do it.” Disney...

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The most powerful brands in the world have one thing in common — strong brand meaning.

Nike encourages consumers to “just do it.” Disney inspires imagination. BMW brings you the “ultimate driving experience.” A simple tagline carries a vivid description of what the brand stands for.

But even companies like Nike and BMW struggle to truly bring those messages to life. With print and television advertisements, brand meaning can feel like a passive experience. Marketers struggle to bridge the gap between the brand meaning, the medium and the customer.

One emerging marketing technology can help solve that problem.

Visa takes consumers to the jungle

Visa utilized augmented reality (AR) to deliver their brand meaning in an engaging way. AR merges physical content with the digital world. This eliminates the space between a customer and a brand meaning. Visa used AR in its campaign, “Try Something New with Visa,” which expresses their brand meaning, “everywhere you want to be.”

The experience give consumers the opportunity to interact with digital animals, bringing their brand meaning to life through in augmented reality jungle.

See video of experience here . 


Global technology software company Lemon & Orange developed the project and installed the AR gear in four Polish malls. By triggering the AR experience, customers can consumers can interact with a variety of zoo animals.

Augmented reality is a great choice for Visa because it gives consumers the once in a lifetime chance to interact with the jungle on a normal shopping day. AR truly lets customers go “everywhere you want to be.”

AR creates an interactive brand meaning

Users reach out to pet digital panda bears during Visa’s augmented reality experience.

According to marketing experts Reis and Trout, the goal of brand meaning is to, “create a unique impression in the customer’s mind so that the customer associates something specific and desirable with your brand.”

Nike, Disney, BMW and Visa have mastered this concept. But Visa ups the game by using augmented reality.

The use of this new technology aligns with Visa as a brand. Visa is a global brand that inspires travel and new experiences for consumers. They want the consumer to engage in adventurous activities. Augmented reality gives the consumer the chance to experience these adventurous activities, something a television or print ad can not.

#AR eliminates the space between a customer and a brand meaning
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Therefore, augmented reality is a great choice, because it allows Visa to leverage its brand meaning. It gives consumers the chance to experience wild adventures without disrupting their daily routine.

Create an AR experience worth sharing

Users can share photos of the AR experience on social media.

For marketers, a great AR experience is only half the battle. To really take advantage of a good campaign, brands should engage customers beyond the glamor of its fancy AR exhibit.

Marketers should not only factor in participation of users, but also engage bystanders — folks who were not able to experience the AR content. Visa allowed mall-goers to share photos of their experience on social media. These photos are “artifacts” — evidence of a user’s participation in an AR campaign. Artifacts further develop user-­bystander engagement because they provide a sharable token of the experience. They allow bystanders observe the augmented reality experience regardless of their location.

Even those who were not at the mall could see how Visa gave consumers this wild opportunity and fully leveraged their brand meaning.

Keep your AR experience under control 

The setup of the entire augmented experience promotes Visa and its adventurous brand meaning.

Though building an AR experience in a public location can be great for engaging customers, there are risks. Marketers should focus on “neutralizing threats,” as described my past research on AR . In Visa’s case, it’s easy to disrupt the company’s augmented reality experience because the area is not closed off within the mall.

Visa did not give themselves complete control of how outside forces could affect the scene. As a result, shoppers could walk in front of the screen disrupting the entire experience. Or, a competitor could place an advertisement in the targeted zone.

By neutralizing these threats, Visa would have truly put the consumer’s wants first and avoided the risk of interruptions.

AR brings your brand meaning to life

Brands need to align their marketing strategies with technologies that best leverage their brand meanings. Visa’s campaign would not have been as impactful if they had chosen to use traditional media. They needed a truly immersive experience to align with Visa’s brand meaning — “Everywhere you want to be.” It places customers in an outrageous and unexpected experience. This helps that brand meaning resonate more than a different medium would.

Augmented reality was a great addition to Visa’s marketing mix. Its campaign is a role model for brands searching for an innovative digital strategy.

If you liked this article, please share this post with other marketing professionals. To learn more about the opportunities and trends in augmented reality, subscribe to for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

The author thanks Lindsey Elliott and Kelsey Payton for their contributions to an earlier version of this post.

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Research Note: How AR can build intimate consumer-brand relationships Sun, 27 May 2018 00:52:17 +0000 Many marketers hope that augmented reality will help them create deep and meaningful consumer-brand relationships. But is that really true? And how would this...

The post Research Note: How AR can build intimate consumer-brand relationships appeared first on MarketingSquad.

Many marketers hope that augmented reality will help them create deep and meaningful consumer-brand relationships. But is that really true? And how would this work? In this fresh-off-the-press academic study, MKTGsquad founder Dr. Joachim Scholz gets to the bottom of AR’s relationship-building potential.

Download the article for FREE (until July 14, 2018)

The study, published in the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, is entitled: “We ARe at home: How augmented reality reshapes mobile marketing and consumer-brand relationships”.

What is this research about?

The article explores how users of Sephora’s mobile AR shopping app forge intimate consumer-brand relationships. Key to building these relationships is to integrate the AR app into consumers’ intimate space (e.g., their bedrooms) and to fuse the branded content with consumers’ sense of self. Through both of these “outside-in” and “inside-out” processes, the AR app provides a personal space for consumers that is conducive for the emergence of meaningful consumer-brand relationships.

The left side of the following figure describes these processes:

How the wider and inner context of AR create intimate consumer-brand relationships
Considering the wider and inner context of AR is important to create intimate consumer-brand relationships

The study has several important implications for marketing practitioners:

Implications for marketing practitioners

Mobile marketers often think about “shopping on the go” when it comes to mobile marketing. In contrast, this research points out that marketers should also consider at-home use as another “wider context” for mobile (AR) apps. In this new study, consumers formed deep relationships with Sephora through using its AR app at home.

Second, augmented reality apps can do so much more than deliver easy-to-understand product information. Sephora’s Virtual Artist app, for example, helps consumers test-drive new identities, relax, and socialize with their friends.

Knowing how consumers use AR is super important for launching a successful AR app. Consumers are not able – or willing – to relax when they feel they are being targeted by the brand.

As this new study shows, AR apps can forge meaningful and deep consumer-brand relationships when consumers perceived the AR app to be centered around themselves. The brand has to recede into the background and has to stay there. Whenever the sales pitch of the brand became too strong, the relationship with the brand became fractured.

Good news for managers

And finally, some good news for managers who worry about the quality of their AR app: While it is, of course, important that the app is user-friendly, the mapping of the AR content does not have to be perfect. Consumers in this study were quite forgiving when it came to smaller inaccuracies of the AR app. The authors interviewed 16 actual users of the app, each for over an hour, and often heard that smaller inaccuracies were expected for such a “little iPhone app”. One participant shared:

“… when it scanned your face to then put fake makeup on, it wasn’t exactly where my cheekbones and things are. But it’s just a little iPhone app, it’s not going to be able to do it perfectly. I’m sure an actual augmented reality giant set-up would be able to get it more accurate. But for a little app, it was pretty accurate, pretty close on.”

In other words, brands have a certain leeway when developing their mobile AR apps, especially now, that the technology is not yet mainstream. Thus, Dr. Scholz’s research encourages managers who are hesitant about the current state of AR technology to take the plunge and embrace AR for their marketing programs.

Your next steps towards deeper consumer-brand relationships

You can read the entire study, with lots of informative quotes from real consumers, over at the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services. If you want to take your AR apps to the next level, ask yourself:

  • Where do consumers use your mobile AR app? (the wider context)
  • How can your AR app foreground the consumer and background the brand? (fusing the brand with the consumer; the inner context)
  • What functionalities can you offer so that consumers can use your app not only to learn about products but also to relax and socialize?

Exploring these three questions will get you a good way towards better realizing AR’s potential to create intimate consumer-brand relationships.

If you want to hear more about the study, or how ethnographic consumer research can help your own AR projects, get in touch with Dr. Scholz via Twitter or MKTGsquad’s contact form.


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Reengineer Transmedia Storytelling with Augmented Reality Tue, 27 Feb 2018 15:00:33 +0000 W​hat if instead of just entertaining your viewers, your viewers became apart of the story? With the expansion of the entertainment industry, marketers need...

The post Reengineer Transmedia Storytelling with Augmented Reality appeared first on MarketingSquad.

W​hat if instead of just entertaining your viewers, your viewers became apart of the story?

With the expansion of the entertainment industry, marketers need to find innovative ways to stay relevant and facilitate engagement. Transmedia storytelling creates one storyline that expands over different media platforms, increasing both reach and frequency among your viewers.

Using Augmented Reality (AR) in transmedia storytelling, the entertainment industry can accomplish much more. Without a purpose that incorporates and impacts the viewer, audience engagement with entertainment is not reaching its maximum potential. This is where AR comes in.

AR extends beyond the boundaries of the screen and allows the consumer to immerse themselves into the story.

So, how can you incorporate AR into your marketing mix to increase audience engagement and ratings?

In this article, ​Chloe Gabel​, J​essi Biagioni​, ​Collin McGrew, and Joachim Scholz discuss how AR can completely reengineer transmedia storytelling within the entertainment industry.

Marketers using AR can reap the benefits of increasing reach and relevance with the target market. However, keep in mind that AR technology requires significant investment and strategic execution.

Below, we illustrate the incorporation of AR to extend the storylines of entertainment marketing into the real world. We discuss 3 ways in which entertainment marketers can both create meaningful connections between fans and unify all media efforts.

Extending the Boundaries of the Physical World

Before the launch of The Dark Knight movie, 42 Entertainment released an alternate reality game called ​Why So Serious?​ to promote the premiere of the movie. The results were spectacular – this alternate reality game grew a tremendous audience of “10 million and [helped] The Dark Knight gain the greatest number of advanced presale tickets ever recorded – selling out its entire opening day”.

42 Entertainment notes that the success of this interactive campaign “illustrates the growing demand for social entertainment”. By pulling fans into the storyline and letting their actions unroll the overall story, ​Why So Serious?​ was able to create a unique crowd culture. 

Why So Serious?​ pulls fans into the alternate world of Gotham City by creating the Joker Scavenger Hunt. Check out this ​video​ to see how the game works.

The Dark Knight ​Why So Serious?​ game creates an AR Gotham City

This revolutionary creation of an alternate reality fostered tremendous levels of audience engagement through transmedia storytelling.

However, it could have been more.

Back in 2009, we did not have the technological capability to use AR. ​As a result, Why So Serious?​ was only able to use digital and online media to create their alternate reality.

Although alternate reality gaming creates a new fan culture, it has its drawbacks.

Alternate reality gaming creates exactly what it says, an alternate reality that fans can be a part of. This “alternate reality” is only experienced through online digital media – there is no interaction with the physical world.

Building an alternate reality is effective when creating a fan culture surrounding the alternate world. But is that the most effective way to make your story resonate with viewers?

Why AR is Key in Transmedia Storytelling

AR creates a deeper alternate reality that connects with the user’s physical world. Alternate realities are no longer confined to the digital boundaries of the technologies that created them.

With AR, boundaries extend to the real world where physical items become a part of the alternate universe.

Effective transmedia storytelling with AR gaming is possible when fan involvement is necessary to further build the story. However, because ​Why So Serious?​ places users in an alternate world that relies completely on digital media, it doesn’t encourage users to interact with the outside world.

The ​Why So Serious? ​campaign could have been even better if it had access to the spatialized media of AR. With AR, alternative reality is so closely entangled with the physical world that it has the power to extend beyond the game.

How AR Increased Audience Engagement through Transmedia Storytelling

AR recently proved its success in entertainment with the Archer AR Campaign. With 7 seasons and counting, the popular American adult animated spy sitcom, Archer, recently launched an app in hopes to get people more involved in season 8. The app allows viewers to utilize AR to receive hints about upcoming episodes. 

The Archer AR App in Action

By allowing viewers to become a part of the show, they transform into a next level enthusiast within the Archer community.

When users open the app and hold their phone up to Archer material (such as items displayed on the TV show, Archer Billboards, and Archer advertisements), they will trigger an interaction with a clue that will display a set of specific animations. The triggering of objects is called “Archering.”

Ultimately, this campaign was successful because clues were hidden in the show and the real world.

The use of physical and digital objects makes the transmedia storytelling continuous.

This campaign adds another dimension to audience engagement. Once the user has collected a series of clues, they can unlock “secrets,” which ultimately help the Archer characters solve the mystery. Besides watching the show, viewers become incorporated into the story. Soon, the story becomes their reality.

Different Types of Media Create Different Realities

Both the ​Why So Serious?​ campaign and Archer P.I. created an alternate reality. However, they used different media types to create their realities. ​Why So Serious?​ used online/digital media (videos, boards, etc.), while Archer P.I. used spatialized media (AR). Ultimately, only Archer had access to this new form of media. Thus, Archer’s alternate reality was more effective for audience engagement than The Dark Knight’s.

Remember, these are only two examples illustrating the potential of transmedia storytelling.

With AR, you too can create deeper engagement across all platforms by weaving your content into the viewer’s world.

3 Steps to Creating AR Enriched Transmedia Storytelling

The goal for marketers is to transform viewing into participation. Using AR to facilitate transmedia storytelling adds another dimension of audience engagement to your show. Here’s how you can increase audience engagement with your entertainment content:

1. Create an AR subplot that coincides with the original entertainment content

2. Make the viewer a contributor to the story

3. Use everyday items to anchor the show’s world

1. Create an AR Subplot that Coincides with the Original Entertainment Content

When creating an AR app, it’s vital that the plot is consistent with your existing content. Your viewers are already fans of the material in your entertainment content. The next step is to accurately represent that story with the AR world you create.

Both Archer P.I. and ​Why So Serious? i​ncorporated themes of the original plot into an interactive game. By focusing on memorable objects and themes of the show, Archer’s app compliments the entertainment content that viewers are used to.

Remember, when you create your own AR campaign, consistency and innovation in your storyline is key.

By choosing the right elements to include in your AR campaign, you make the connection between media feel more legitimate. Ultimately, the purpose of this strategy is to entangle objects and themes through transmedia storytelling.

Next, you can create a subplot within the app. Utilizing different media platforms, you can stretch your story beyond the screen and into the everyday lives of your viewers. The subplot connects the storyline of the original content to the personal experience of the user. Now, the once mundane objects in the viewer’s world have a new meaning in the AR world.

2. Make the Viewer a Contributor to the Story

AR can successfully facilitate audience engagement with the content of your storyline. In the Archer example, users were already fans of the show and felt a connection with the story. With the addition of the AR app, the viewer could now be a Personal Investigator, solving crimes enhance Archer’s storyline.

Implementing AR in transmedia storytelling allows viewers to join the characters in the story.

Creating this “part of the team” mentality for viewers opens up a new level of audience engagement. Audience members become an active participant in the story rather than simply viewing the story.

When viewers immerse themselves into the story and see themselves as a contributor, you can create deep levels of engagement. With Archer P.I., the case cannot be solved and the story cannot be told unless the audience finds the clues.

Transmedia storytelling links the episode & mobile story in Archer P.I

3. Use Everyday Items to Anchor the Show’s World

Integrating transmedia screens provides a new level of audience engagement for fans. Before, entertainment was separate from the viewer’s personal reality. As Jo Scholz​ and Andrew Smith point out​, AR takes a step further in audience engagement by merging your content with the viewer’s world. With AR—these two worlds become “entangled.”

So, what does this mean for you?

In order to increase audience engagement, you need to integrate personal items into your AR application.

In the Archer app, clues were “entangled” in a new merged world.

This strategy made the show incredibly real and vivid for viewers because they were already familiar with those items. Moreover, it introduced a new experience inside viewers’ own lives.

Finally, utilizing everyday items creates a feeling of importance for consumers within the storyline. To help Archer solve the case, Archer’s AR app not only encourages but requires audience engagement with the various media advertising platforms. This new prerogative captures viewers and consequently increases ratings. By bringing both personal items and branded items into your AR campaign, you too can increase audience engagement!

Ultimately, AR Portals Link Physical and Alternate Realities

A current trend in media production is the idea of dropping “Easter Eggs” throughout the story. “Easter Eggs” can only be found if viewers pay close attention to every detail in the show. The main goal of these “Easter Eggs” is to encourage fan groups to discuss what the hidden objects mean and where you can find them.

In short, “Easter Eggs” increase audience engagement after watching the show.

AR pushes the “Easter Egg” idea to the next level. These hidden objects will no longer be found only in the TV show. Now, the “Easter Eggs” can include physical objects that fans can discuss. AR goes far beyond the idea of “Easter Eggs.” Instead, it creates “AR Portals” that build real connections between the show’s alternate world and audience’s physical world.

“AR Portals” push audience engagement into your storyline because they are a constant reminder of the story. With “Easter Eggs,” you need to watch the show to see them.

With “AR Portals,” the audience can look at any physical object and be transported into your story’s alternate world.

By using physical objects that anyone can interact with, AR also encourages fan culture. The discussion travels beyond, “did you see that last episode?” It now includes, “did you see that the dollar bill in your wallet is a clue to the mystery?”

Future of AR Marketing in Entertainment

AR is an extraordinary tool for marketing to consumers. Its benefits and efficiency are only going to increase as technology continues to develop. By using AR to facilitate transmedia storytelling, you can strengthen connections with your audience.

A successful AR campaign requires strategic execution with the viewer in mind. Only then will the viewer’s world and the AR world collide to create the ultimate form of engagement. Remember, involving the viewer in your content will increase ratings and views. After implementing these tactics, you will be on your way to stardom.

To keep up to date with emerging marketing techniques, subscribe to for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

This post was written by Chloe Gabel, Jessi Biagioni, Collin McGrew, and Dr. Joachim Scholz. The authors thank Sonya Bengali for her help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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How Augmented Reality can Reinvent the Shopping Experience Mon, 12 Feb 2018 15:00:27 +0000 Digital technologies are transforming the retail shopping experience. However, retailers are oftentimes not sure how to implement digital technology into their marketing mix. As...

The post How Augmented Reality can Reinvent the Shopping Experience appeared first on MarketingSquad.

Digital technologies are transforming the retail shopping experience. However, retailers are oftentimes not sure how to implement digital technology into their marketing mix. As a result, many retailers end up developing fragmented solutions focused on the isolated in-store experience.

For example, in 2016, Lowe’s Home Improvement attempted to use new digital technologies to create the in-store robot sales associate, “​LoweBot​.” Their narrow solution questioned “how can we help customers easily find products?” rather than thinking of the big picture, “how can we help customers design the room of their dreams?”

How, then, can retail marketers rethink the shopping experience in holistic ways? One way to do this is through the use of augmented reality (AR).

With augmented reality, you can focus less on the physical store, and more on how the store can help customers achieve their project goals.

Here, the old adage saying, “you’re not selling a drill, you’re selling a hole,” no longer applies. The saying should be: “You’re not selling a drill or a hole. You’re selling a better room.”

The shopping experience is no longer about an in-store experience. Rather, the focus is now about helping the customer reach their project goals. Augmented reality can achieve this because it allows marketers to help customers in their immediate environment by virtue of being a spatial technology that integrates digital content with the physical world.

In this article, Maggie Hitchings, Reilly Roberts, Maddie Reid, and Joachim Scholz discuss how augmented reality can create a solution-centric retail environment by focusing on the customer’s project and allowing for serendipity and assurance.

How Lowe’s Home Improvement Reinvented the Shopping Exerperience

Lowe’s updated their use of digital technology by introducing an augmented reality app using ​Tango-enabled smartphones. The app has two functions that allow Lowe’s to focus on providing a complete solution for its customers.

The first part of the app, “​Lowe’s Vision​,” enables users to measure and place virtual products into their home to visualize how the room will look. This allows users to thoroughly plan their projects and create a shopping list before entering the store to purchase the products.

Part of "Lowe's Vision" is to enhance consumer's shopping experience.

The second part of the app, known as “​Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation​,” uses a mixed reality interface to guide users through the store and find products on their shopping lists.

“[The app] allows our associates to spend more time advising on home improvement projects,” said Kyle Nel, executive director of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. “With Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation, we’ve created a more seamless experience using breakthrough technology so customers can save time shopping and focus more on their project.”

It’s not just Lowe’s that got this right – you can do it too!

By incorporating augmented reality, you can focus on the customer’s project and become more solution-oriented.

Because the Lowe’s app satisfies basic needs like navigation to products, sales associates can focus more attention on consulting customers with project ideas. Repurposing the sales associate allows for more exciting and personal interactions. Ultimately, this builds meaningful and long-lasting relationships between the customer and the brand.

How You Can Use AR Marketing to Transform the Shopping Experience

If you want to use augmented reality to transform your audience’s shopping experience, there are four things you need to keep in mind:

1. Allow customers to plan and execute projects

2. Allow for serendipity

3. Provide quality assurance

4. Provide social assurance

To remember this, we came up with the acronym, PSA​​2.

This acronym will help you optimize your consumer's shopping experience.

1) Allow Customers to Plan and Execute Projects

Augmented reality helps your consumers overcome the imagination gap​ when they have an idea for a project. For example, in “Lowe’s Vision,” the in-home component allows users to envision their dream room. This is one of the most important features to incorporate in your AR app to enhance the shopping experience.

This streamlined focus on getting the customer from the planning stage to execution stage has been successful in other marketing campaigns such as ​IKEA​ and ​TopShop.​ IKEA followed a similar model as Lowe’s by giving consumers the capability to measure and visualize products in their homes. TopShop created dressing rooms with augmented reality so users could virtually try on products.

In both cases, customers were given the tools and information needed to follow through with their projects. This eases the buying experience, further enticing consumers to confidently follow through with a purchase decision.

Remember, creating a solution-oriented shopping experience is what makes augmented reality so valuable for your business.

2) Allow for Serendipity 

While the “Lowe’s Vision: In-Store Navigation” app helps customers plan and navigate with ease, the trade off is that customers no longer have a reason to wander through the store. To change this, Lowe’s could use augmented reality to incentivize people to explore places not on their shopping list.

In other words, you should think about how to incorporate aspects of serendipity into your AR app.

One way to do this is through ​gamification​. The app could provide different paths for customers to follow throughout the store, where they could “win” tokens and earn discounts. If the user could hold up their smartphone and see discounts light up in different areas of the store, they would be more inclined to navigate and explore different departments.

Another way your app could increase serendipity and trigger impulse decisions is to show virtual products that align with products on your customer’s shopping list.

For example, if your customer is picking up a table they already tried at home, your app could alert them of a coordinating lamp. Using AR, the user would hold up their smartphone to the table and see the suggested lamp sitting on top. As a result, this would urge them to visit the lighting section.

3) Quality Assurance

Augmented reality can help you transform an in-store shopping experience to one that prioritizes consumers’ projects by providing them with quality assurance.

Consumers value reviews more than almost anything else. According to data presented by ​Bright Local​, customers actively seek out product and business reviews. In fact, 67% of consumers read as many as six reviews before they trust a business and 85% read as many as ten.

When using the app, users could hold their smartphone in front of a product and see reviews pop up right next to it. Why force your customers to find assurance elsewhere when this can be streamlined through your app?

Having reviews directly integrated into the shopping experience saves consumers time and allows them to focus on the project at hand.

4) Social Assurance

While quality assurance is important, social assurance can be an even more powerful tool.

Imagine this: you are shopping for a new shirt with a friend. Your friend says, “that shirt looks good on you!” This positive feedback from your friend is a critical component to your final purchase decision because people naturally care about what others think of them.

To recreate the experience of shopping with a friend in your AR app, we suggest using live-streaming and chat functions.

Live-streaming and chat functions allow you to build a supportive shopping community.

The live-streaming aspect of the app could be similar to ​ModiFace​. This platform allows makeup artists to live stream themselves putting on virtual makeup through Facebook Live and YouTube Live. More importantly, they receive comments from their online community.

ModiFace uses live streaming to reinvent the shopping experience.

In the Lowe’s example, consumers could use the app to live-stream themselves virtually testing out products in their homes. At the same time, they could get feedback from their social network. Receiving a “like” or positive comment on live-streams is similar to a friend saying “that shirt looks good on you.”

Affirmation is extremely influential in your consumer’s shopping experience and instills confidence in their purchase decision.

Additionally, the live-stream feature can be directed at the sales associate. Sales associates could provide advice about products before the consumer even sets foot in the store. This would transform the role of a sales associate. They are no longer employees who simply help consumers find products in the store; rather, they are experts who help consumers achieve their goals.

Future Outlook

The digital age is new and exciting. However, many retail marketers do not know how to use emerging technologies to their advantage.​

Here’s the big takeaway: augmented reality can help you create a holistic shopping experience for your customer.

By incorporating augmented reality into your marketing mix, you can build a solution-centric retail shopping environment that prioritizes your consumers’ project goals and dreams.

To get the most out of your AR app, make sure to include features that allow consumers to plan and execute their projects, provide serendipity in the store, and include social and quality assurance.

Augmented reality allows businesses to transform the meaning of shopping. However, you must ensure you are creating a complete experience for your consumer. With a well developed AR app, in-store shopping becomes less about the physical products and more about how you can turn your consumers dreams into a reality.

To keep up to date with emerging marketing techniques, subscribe to for upcoming articles on the latest and greatest AR campaigns.

This post was written by Megan Hitchings, Maddie Reid, Reilly Roberts, and Dr. Joachim Scholz. The authors thank Sonya Bengali for her help in editing this article. Please follow the authors on Twitter for more information on this topic.

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