Pretty in Pink (Weekly Roundup: August 11)

Posted by Samantha Stallard on August 11, 2017
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Every Friday, the P2Blog will feature five industry articles that are trending, relevant, shocking, hilarious, or rediscovered. The Weekly Roundup is a curated list of what Pop2Life is sharing around the office - complete with our thoughts and on-point opinions (IMNSHO).

Have a blog, video, case study, infographic, or article you'd like to see included in next week's Roundup? Send it our way! We'll give credit where credit is due with a link to your Twitter handle and website.


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1. Can Direct-to-Consumer Brands Be Experiential?

direct to consumer shops.jpegPhoto courtesy: Pexels

Found in P2Blog, written by Samantha Stallard

These brands disrupt traditional, inflated industries with competitive pricing and ease of use -- Uber didn't reinvent the car service, just as Casper didn't design a new type of mattress. They made the experience more user-friendly by cutting out the middle man and, in turn, cutting prices. Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands seemingly cover every type of need -- from home cleaning from Handy and dog walking from Wag, to music streaming from Spotify and travel accommodations from Airbnb, there's little overlap in product or service. However, each of these companies shares one valuable and deep-rooted trait -- an unrelenting focus on branding.

In today's consumer-centric business culture, brands are expected to have a clear aesthetic, belief system, and voice from the very beginning. Consumers must feel drawn to these brands on an emotional, almost spiritual, level. More than a beautiful website, a fun logo, or a catchy tagline, there has to be a consistent user experience that resonates from the first click. So then how do direct-to-consumer brands connect with their audience beyond their website or social profiles? With no stores to walk into and no employees to interact with, how are trust and loyalty established? Can D2C brands be experiential or is that a marketing strategy reserved for a more traditional business model?

Of course, D2C brands can activate experiences -- and when they get experiential, consumers notice. Brand activations such as pop-up shops, product launch parties, influencer experiences, or space takeovers see high attendance and positive feedback because it is usually the first time, and often only time, consumers have to interact with these brands face-to-face. 

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2. A Limited Too Pop-Up Is Coming to New York City

limited-too.jpegPhoto courtesy: @limitedtoo Instagram

Found in Allure, written by Devon Ivie

According to WWD, everyone's favorite middle-school brand, Limited Too, will be rising from the ashes to debut a series of pastel pink "back to school" pop-up stores in New York City next month. If you're in the general Manhattan vicinity, there will be a few locations where you can check out and browse the (presumably nostalgic?) goods: Third Avenue, between 59th and 60th Streets on August 6; Herald Square on August 7 and 8; Union Square on August 9; and the Flatiron District on August 10.

Everything you would need to go back to school — or, let's face it, back to work — will be for sale, which will include apparel, accessories, notebooks, key chains, backpacks, and cell phone cases. Just note that there will only be children's clothing sizes, and keeping with the Limited Too brand, everything will be priced for under $100.

For fans of Limited Too, the announcement of the pop-up stores come at an opportune time. Despite the brand relaunching and promising new products in 2015, the most we've really gotten so far is a bunch of sparkly tech accessories like cell phone cases and earbuds. But with the pop-ups, executives are hoping it can usher in a new era for the brand, which will be defined by a large online presence and a relationship with Amazon.

Our take:

Pop-ups are a great way for brands to experiment. Marketers can gauge how well consumers respond to the products and services being offered, without commiting to a wide-scale launch or funneling money into consumer research. By ordering a limited supply of product, renting a small, low cost space, and advertising the retail experience on social media, pop ups have relatively low overhead, low expectation, and high reward.

Successful pop-ups can be expanded into traveling experiential activations. If New Yorkers respond well to Limited Too's back to school experience, the show can go on the road to LA, Chicago, and Austin. The theme can be adapted for the seasons as well. Beyond experiential marketing, pop-ups can become long term retail opportunities for brands - successful direct-to-consumer brands like Birchbox, Nasty Gal, and Glossier have turned their temporary locations into permanent stores based on positive consumer feedback.

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3. The Killer Concept Reinventing Retail

pexels-retail concept.jpegPhoto courtesy: Pexels

Found in P2Blog, written by Samantha Stallard

Specialty shops, and even giant, national chains such as Barnes and Noble and Staples, aren't the experiences shoppers are looking for anymore. If we can buy literally everything we'll ever need from our phones, then retailers need to reevaluate why people still walk into their storefronts.

Creative brands are transforming the traditional shopping experience into an experiential one. Enter the concept store, a reimagined retail experience in which a store's purpose isn't to drive the most sales possible, it's to immerse and educate the buyer into the brand. Inside, shoppers can browse, play with tech, relax with a coffee, and art direct the perfect Instagram. Cluttered shelves packed to the brim with merchandise are now sleek and minimalist -- three items sit where 13 could fit. Taking design cues from magazines and museums, these shops bridge the gap between the digital and physical.

These stores embrace the omni-channel retail experience and are growing in popularity among direct-to-consumer brands. Amazon, eBay, and even Google are experimenting with physical locations as "laboratories" where shoppers can test drive products without the pressure of purchase. Even as we spend more money through digital transactions, going out and shopping remains a leisure activity that American consumers still enjoy. 

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4. Why This Instagram-Worthy Stunt Sparked Controversy and Conversation

Instagram_Stunt.pngPhoto courtesy: @themuralagency Instagram

Found in BizBash, written by Alexandra Dubin

Nomadica, which is known for its art-covered packaging on cans—not bottles—launched its new Pink River Rosé with a pop-up art installation in collaboration with Matty Mo, also known as the Most Famous Artist. The June stunt took over three mid-century homes on the 1500 block of Hi Point Street in Los Angeles’s central Mid-City neighborhood; the residences were slated to be demolished and replaced by a 45-unit high-rise apartment complex being designed by M-Rad Architecture.

The Most Famous Artist—representing his company the Mural Agency and commissioned by M-Rad—covered the residences in eye-catching bright pink paint, pegged to National Rosé Day.

Nomadica seized on the installation to draw attention to the artist’s work on the limited-edition cans of wine, hosting an unveiling event on June 10 with a wine tasting and a raffle. PMK-BNC distributed an invitation that read: “Come for a selfie, stay for the wine.” It drew postings from celebrities such as Sophia Bush, as well as other Instagram influencers. Organizers behind the conceptual art project, however, did not notify neighbors, which triggered significant controversy. Neighbors complained about the bright color, the increased traffic, and the fact that the houses’ yards were still overgrown.

Our take:

Unexpected, awesome experiences that cut through the usual marketing “noise” by entertaining and surprising us. Sure, we love the traditional press hits, but a great stunt also turns real-life consumers into an army of trusted brand ambassadors who share their impressions via tweets, photos, videos, etc.  

Technology, the internet, and social media specifically, have given us the ability to amplify our experiences (and brand preferences) faster and with more authenticity. In the past few years, we’ve seen more brands roll the dice in an effort to benefit from our proclivity to share online. Some have been incredibly successful and entertaining. Others, well not so much.

One of our specialties at Pop2Life is creating wowing, successful marketing stunts like the blood-red fountains we unleashed on 14 cities to promote Season 2 of Showtime’s hit show, Dexter or the world-record setting, spinning vinyl record that announced the relaunch of LA’s iconic Forum.

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5. Here's What You Need to Know About Voice AI, The Next Frontier of Brand Marketing

Screen Shot 2017-08-08 at 3.32.44 PM.pngPhoto courtesy: Getty Images

Found Adweek, written by Christopher Heine

Soon enough, your breakfast bar could be your search bar. Your lamp could be how you shop for lightbulbs. Your Chevy or Ford might be your vehicle for finding a YouTube video, like the classic SNL skit of Chevy Chase’s send-up of President Gerald Ford, to make a long drive less tedious. And you won’t have to lift a finger—all you’ll need to do is turn toward one of those inanimate objects and say something. Welcome to a future where your voice is the main signal for the elaborate data grid known as your life.

Two decades ago when Amazon and Google were founded, only a seer could have predicted that those companies would eventually start turning the physical world into a vast, voice-activated interface. Artificial intelligence-powered voiceis what perhaps makes Amazon and Google the real duopoly to watch (sorry, Facebook), as their smart speakers—2-year-old Amazon Echo and 8-month-old Google Home—are gaining traction. Forty-five million voice-assisted devices are now in use in the U.S., according to eMarketer, and that number will rise to 67 million by 2019. Amazon Echo, which utilizes the ecommerce giant’s voice artificial intelligence called Alexa, owns roughly 70 percent of the smart speaker market, per eMarketer.

While brand marketers are coming to grips with a consumer landscape where touch points mutate into listening points, search marketing pros are laying important groundwork by focusing on what can be done with Amazon Echo and Google Home (the latter of which employs a voice AI system called Assistant). With voice replacing fingertips, search is ground zero right now when it comes to brands.

Our take:

Voice is a productive tool for brands that align with the technology. AI-based technologies would be a great addition to high-cost, high-tech products such as washing machines or car engines to notify owners if something in the system is broken and needs to be repaired or replaced. However, it doesn't make sense for every brand, even tech-focused, direct-to-consumer businesses like Stitch Fix, aren't quit ready to implement a voice AI component.

Also, who owns this data? The brand? The devices? Future hackers may be able to find and collect this data from listening devices in people's homes and offices and the last thing brands want is the government or criminals listeing in.

And since voice AI could greatly impact search-driven commerce, it would be wise for Amazon and Google to encourage industry best practices. Then again, they might want to actually form a larger circle that also includes Facebook, Apple, Samsung and Microsoft. Facebook last week purchased AI startup Ozlo and is rumored to be developing speaker technology of its own. Apple has star power in Siri, and Samsung in late July debuted voice capabilities for its assistant, Bixby. Also, Microsoft will continue to market its AI assistant, Cortana, in hopes of getting a significant piece of voice real estate.

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Topics: pop culture, news, experiential marketing, events

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