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The music industry has changed a lot in the past years. As a GenYer, I still remember well the first physical music I bought. I immediately bought two CDs, the Killers’ Sam’s Town and Editors’ The Back Room. I even still remember the tracks that would cause the CD to stop playing, since the disc became unreadable. In today’s era of streaming services, I wonder if GenZers will still have such vivid memories of the time they start listening to music.

What is always a key moment for artists to generate attention and buzz, is the release of albums. We found that many releases have a close link to the Brand Religions, InSites Consulting defined. In the previous post in this series, we already shed our light on the Penetration Religion; in this post, we will continue with the Influencer Religion. We start off with a short recap and will then look at two cases, one of Daft Punk and one of Arcade Fire.

Hot tweetaway: Applying @InSites #BrandReligion to the #musicindustry. Discover 2 #musicreleases following the Influencer Brand Religion insit.es/2Gu6Bwk by Mike Broeren via @CoolBrands #DaftPunk #ArcadeFire #musicmarketing #nextgen

Influencer Religion

Let’s start off with a quick recap on the Influencer Religion, which is all about the power of conversations as a key to brand success. Believers of this religion emphasize the fact that traditional media is dying out and that traditional brand and advertising messages no longer cut through the clutter. This religion is all about marketing through people rather than to people, as in today’s new media landscape, everyone is a marketer and a very powerful one! It is all about getting conversations started and having other people talk about your brand to create a ripple effect. Therefore, brand activations should ideally function as conversation starters. Imagine talking to friends about a funny commercial you have seen.

Many artists and bands have the potential, as no other, to create a ripple effect through a simple tweet, Instagram picture or post. It is not hard to imagine that for these big artists, each small mention linked to a new release or a new tour would generate a large amount of buzz. Music is all about influencing done by individual listeners as well as through online blogs. How does an artist get the buzz going about their new album?

The Daft Punk myth

Daft Punk is a French mysterious DJ duo. The mystery is really part of their DNA, since they always perform with shiny, large helmets and appear in extravagant outfits, not revealing their true identity. Actually, no real pictures exist of the two members. The low number of concerts and releases in recent years all add up to this secrecy. In the era of exceptional releases, Daft Punk created a fair bit of buzz in 2013 for their album Random Access Memories. For that release, Daft Punk started their campaign by adapting their online profile pictures with the artwork of their new album cover (which was not known yet). Shortly after, a commercial followed with a tv campaign containing that same artwork and 15 seconds of sound. A new mystery was born, what was Daft Punk up to?

In the following month, billboards and posters containing that particular image appeared throughout L.A. and New York. This was massively captured and shared on Facebook. At the end of the month, a second billboard campaign announced the new album. Different artists (also named The Collaborators) assisted the duo in the making of the album.

After the announcement was out, Daft Punk wanted to keep the conversation going. To do so, they used The Collaborators. In mini-documentaries, each of the Collaborators shared their view on their contribution. In the end, this generated 6.8 million views. Fun fact: the Daft Punk DJs are referred to as the Robots.

But the buzz did not end there. To launch their first single, Get Lucky, a teaser video was broadcasted at the Coachella festival. A smart place to do so, since the festival attracts loads of hipsters.

Daft Punk/Pharrell Williams Random Access Memories Coachell - YouTube

Not long after, the track list of the album was shared via the (back then new) app Vine. Finally, Daft Punk started to go mass media and on national radio channels and via popular magazines. Final nice note on the Daft Punk release: the release party was hosted at the Wee Waa Show, a local cultural festival in Wee Waa, Australia with just 2,000 (!) music lovers.

Hot tweetaway: What brands can learn from #DaftPunk’s Random Access Memories album release insit.es/2Gu6Bwk by Mike Broeren via @CoolBrands #InfluencerMarketing #Brandreligion #musicmarketing #nextgen #musicreleases

How did it work out?
Each of the actions mentioned above proved to be true conversation starters as they caused a lot of traction. Clearly, the success of the campaign is largely due to the immense popularity of any Daft Punk activity. However, one cannot conclude differently than that the marketing of the album was very thought-through, with the right pieces of information at the right time. Or, as a blog pointed out, Daft Punk made every blog on the world link to their iTunes page.

Never a dull moment with Arcade Fire

For their two most recent releases, Canadian band Arcade Fire had two marketing campaigns worth mentioning:

There’s a new band in town – The Reflektors
For their fourth studio album, Reflektor, Arcade Fire created a fair bit of buzz and their strategy might sound familiar. In major cities across the US, street art of ‘Reflektor’ started appearing and the Reflektor logo appeared in chalk. The band started performing secret gigs as ‘The Reflektors’, which really got the buzz going. They used large fake heads as a disguise, but it did not take long before people found out it was Arcade Fire with a new tour. The first gig was recorded and broadcasted on national television in a 30-minute special. Not long after, another piece of the album puzzle was uncovered with a short video which announced the new work would be released on 9/9/9; 9 September at 9:00. This officially linked Arcade to the Reflektor art work. The single ‘Reflektor’ went on to go #1 in the single rankings and also involved a very cool interactive video art work.

Everything Now Inc.
Arcade Fire’s front man Win Butler is known for his criticism on today’s society. In 2017, the band released their new album Everything Now, which deals for instance with today’s consumption society (Everything Now), struggling Millennials (Creature Comfort) and the infinite availability and overload of information (Infinite Content).

For the release of the 2017 album Everything Now, Arcade Fire went a bit further in creating buzz. All their activations around this album were extremely satirical. The band wanted to address the current issues around fake news and made different websites containing fake news. The fake websites were hard to recognize as being fake, since they were often remakes of existing websites. Even some well-known blogs picked up such activations and published them, not recognizing the fake news.

Hot tweetaway: How Arcade Fire’s Everything Now album release created buzz by releasing #fakenews insit.es/2Gu6Bwk by Mike Broeren via @CoolBrands #InfluencerMarketing #Brandreligion #musicmarketing #nextgen #musicreleases

For example, the band put up a website containing a pre-pre-release review of their new album: “…while ‘Good God Damn’ is probably a guitar-based rocker, because it’s got ’Damn’ in the title.”

How did it work out?
Needless to say, Arcade Fire is a master in creating buzz, especially with their last album. Their last albums all hit number 1 on the Billboard 200. The Reflektor campaign was more ‘blueprinted’ and really a marketing campaign, comparable to Daft Punk. The ‘Everything Now’ campaign tried to raise awareness for the ‘fake news’ scandals around Donald Trump and the American elections.

Influencer Religion in music

Both bands used a campaign where they revealed parts of the puzzle piece by piece. They blueprinted the campaign and knew when each piece of information would be unfolded. The campaign was all about spreading small pieces of information and create a desire for more.

Secondly, we have seen an example by Arcade Fire to create buzz with a stunt, spreading all the fake news. This campaign’s main focus was to raise awareness for the issue of fake news. However, by doing so, they created a massive reach also among media which normally might not pick up news on the bands. In both cases, the artists managed to create a large amount of buzz and the social media was full of it.

Stay tuned as in the final episode of this series, we will continue with the Relationship Religion!

Eager for more? Get your free download of the Brand Religion bookzine!

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Although the number of singles is growing every year (one of the key trends of the frAGILE bookzine), with recent figures of Euromonitor projecting that 120 million new single households will be added by 2030, being single around February is never a pleasant thing. As February 14th is peeking round the corner, we are massively getting the spread-your-love lecture with social media bombarding us with cheesy love quotes, lists of the best gifts to surprise your partner and the most romantic date ideas, not to mention the red hearts overload coloring shop widows.

It is a fact that Valentine’s Day does not only (if at all) represent a shout out to love, but it is a big commercial event with, according to the National Retail Federation, $18.2 billion being spend in the US during this holiday of love. The average American spends around $136.57 on flowers, jewelry, chocolates,… and even gifts for their pets (the same survey showed that about 20% of US consumers buys their pet a Valentine’s gift) in the period leading up to this day.

Hot tweetaway: The average American spends around $136.57 on flowers, jewelry, chocolates… for #ValentinesDay insit.es/2G76DKg by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #mrx #nationalretailfederation #seasonoflove #retail #Valentinespending #nextgen

You might think “ugh”, if you are one of those resenting this fake feast of love … and guess what, there is a market for that too, with events popping up in major cities celebrating anti-Valentine’s day. In London they are holding a F**k Tinder London event where during a comedy show people can meet face to face without the use of dating apps. Also for the sixth year in a row, dating app Bumble is organizing an Anti-Valentine night of UV table tennis, smashing heart-shaped piñata’s and cocktails. Party people are asked to follow the strict anti-Valentine’s rules and there is even Love Police on call to capture mugshots of any romance rebels.

Since a couple of years, a whole new celebration has entered the scene – which can be the rescue to all those resenting the holiday of love. Meet Galentine’s Day, a concept that initially started as a sitcom joke on the American series Parks and Recreation.

Parks and Recreation Deleted Scene - Galentine's Day 1 - YouTube

Galentine, taking place on February 13th is all about celebrating your besties, gals (think sisters before misters) during a boozy brunch or cheesy pajama nights. With more singles out there, it is clear this day will keep on marking people’s calendar in the years to come.

Hot tweetaway: Meet #GalentinesDay, the new holiday that is all about female friendships, celebrating your gals (Feb 13) insit.es/2G76DKg by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #singles #singleton #newhouseholds #retail #ValentinesDay #nextgen

Brands are also seizing their fair share of Galentine, with greeting cards and gift ideas rising for the occasion. Pinterest has seen a 245 percent increase in the UK of pins tagged for the occasion, going from pink cocktails to unicorn doughnuts.

So whether you have a date on the 14th or not, don’t waste the night sobbing on the sofa with Netflix and ice-cream. Just like we have seen the breakdown of traditional relationships where youngsters buy properties together, celebrating friends love is the new normal. And if you want to give your single self a little gift, there are even subscription boxes celebrating self-love for single women (an example is Single Swag, which by the way is a must-follow on Instagram if you want to join the anti-valentine and cheesy-love revolution with a funny twist).

Hot tweetaway: How brands are seizing their fair share of #Galentine with greeting cards & gift ideas insit.es/2G76DKg by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #GalentinesDay #Feb13 #retail #mrx #newhouseholds #singles #nextgen

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Last Sunday, about 1.35 billion chicken wings, 4 million pizzas and 50 million crates of beer were consumed all over the United States, and it all had to do with one (small or very big) single gathering. I’m talking about the most viewed sports event of all time, I’m talking Super Bowl. The 111 million viewers and sports lovers enjoyed the battle between the New England Patriots & the Philadelphia Eagles, but the Super Bowl was equally exciting for the entertainment lovers amongst them, not only because of the spectacular halftime show, owned (big time!) by the one & only Justin Timberlake, but also because Super Bowl times also equal the battle of the best brands out there, paying about 5 million dollars to broadcast their 30-sec or 1-min commercials, to win over the attention of the massive crowd.

It goes without saying that this year it was all about bringing back humor, nostalgia and celebrities – rather than politics. So, apart from the fact that the Philadelphia Eagles won, who else did in my opinion?

Hot tweetaway: #SuperBowlcommercials bring back #humor #nostalgia & #celebrities. Check out the @CoolBrands top 5 of 2018! insit.es/2FTRfky by @MasNatalie #advertising #battleofthebrands #nextgen #geny #genz #SuperBowl

Budweiser – “Stand by you”

Let’s kick off with an indispensable brand during Super Bowl: Budweiser. As one of the few brands that appealed to emotions this year by highlighting their efforts for a good environment, they managed to catch my attention. The ad focuses on the company’s clean water initiative in the wake of recent natural disasters in California, Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida. Over the past three decades, AB InBev has provided more than 79 million cans of drinking water in response to natural disasters – as the ad states: “Whenever you need us, we’ll stand by you”. Using one of my favorite songs, they’re dreaming of a better world, just like the Next Generation does. Nothing but good vibes to start with.

Budweiser 2018 Super Bowl Commercial | “Stand By You” - YouTube

NFL – Touchdown celebrations to come

Going from dreaming of a better world, to already dreaming of the next American football season, there’s NFL’s contribution. This year, they did not use Super Bowl babies in their annual commercial, but their own football players. The spot – starring Eli Manning & Odell Beckmann Jr. of the NY Giants – simply shows how the Super Bowl, for most teams, means the exciting start of the next season. A season that has now officially started with some Dirty Dancing vibes (and the famous lift at the end). All for one purpose: for all the touchdowns to come.

Touchdown Celebrations to Come | NFL | Super Bowl LII Commercial - YouTube

Australia tourism – Crocodile Dundee reboot

And while everyone was excited about the reboot of the 1986 movie Crocodile Dundee starring Chris Hemsworth & Danny McBride, the commercial shown in the second quarter of the Super Bowl of Sunday’s Super Bowl proved otherwise. By adding a short last scene to the so-called movie trailer, all became clear. To say it in Chris & Danny’s words: “This isn’t a movie – it’s a tourism ad for Australia; You’re the best Crocodile Dundee since Crocodile Dundee. And we had the best trip ever, didn’t we?” Daring, yet again well-played. With the commercial that’s playing the nostalgia card big time, Australia’s tourism officials are hoping to attract visitors from the US. Let’s hope they’ve succeeded (and did not just disappoint any Crocodile Dundee or Chris Hemsworth fans ).

Tourism Australia Dundee Super Bowl Ad 2018 w/ Chris Hemsworth and Danny McBride - YouTube

Amazon – Alexa loses her voice

Not calling in any nostalgia or dreaming of a better world or football season, Amazon simply called in some celebrities. Being my second favorite 2018 Super Bowl ad, this 90-second video just works. With a simple yet funny storyline:  Alexa loses her voice – but don’t worry, there are plenty of celebrities to fill in for her: who wouldn’t want to get cooking tips from Gordon Ramsey, background music from Cardi B or Rebel Wilson setting the mood? The ad even features Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO. Well played, Amazon, especially in times where commercials and brands are perceived as more authentic and trustworthy when featuring the real people behind the brand. In the end Alexa takes over again, but for now: enjoy your famous personal assistants for 30 seconds .

Amazon "Alexa Loses Her Voice" Super Bowl Commercial 2018 - YouTube

Tide – It’s a Tide ad

Last but not least, Tide is by far my personal favorite of this year’s Super Bowl commercial battle (and not only mine I guess). What did they do? They used typical Super Bowl ads, made fun of them and basically turned all the attention on themselves. Like a boss. With the help of actor David Harbour, Tide just hijacked some classic ads about different products (from Old Spice over diamonds to Budweiser), with 1 constant factor: across all ads, there are no stains on anyone’s clothing. That basically makes every Super Bowl ad a Tide ad – because to use their own words: “If it’s clean, it must be Tide”.

Tide | Super Bowl LII 2018 Commercial | It's a Tide Ad - YouTube

In short, this year’s Super Bowl commercial strategy was all about clever, nostalgic yet funny approaches. Works for me yet again. Already looking forward to next year’s!

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While once the idea of speaking and interacting with technology not only seemed impossible, but felt unnecessary and even odd, today smart technology has been transforming many parts of our lives. Just think of how Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service, gives you advice on cooking times or the duration of your commute. We might not all use a digital assistant for our daily chores, but AI definitely put a stamp on our lives and business where machine learning is adopted, from product development to customer services across all industries. This is also in fashion, where AI has found its way in different parts of the value chain. If you thought the creative skill of designing clothes, offering style advice and operating as fashion police is per definition human, you are wrong. Welcome to a world where robots and AI are the new fashionistas and are (literally) styling our lives.

Hot tweetaway: 3 innovative approaches to #AI in #fashion: Smart fashion, AI fashion assistant & AI store assistant insit.es/2GV75N3 by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #nextgen #coolbrands #geny #genz

AI driving smart products

Machine-learning systems can provide an edge when it comes to spotting and reacting to the latest fashion trends. Amazon has developed an algorithm that uses images (e.g. Instagram, Pinterest,…) to learn about a particular style and generate new items in similar styles from scratch. This smart technology, resulting in an AI fashion designer, will allow brands to reduce the time to market and be on par with the latest trends.

Hot tweetaway: Analyzing #socialmedia pictures to spot #fashion trends allowing brands to reduce time to market and be on par with the latest #trends insit.es/2GV75N3 by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #nextgen #geny #genz

Adidas is working on making 3D printed shoes and consumer products, where shoes match a person’s personal footprint, taking into account the pressure points and contour details, providing a customized shoe with maximum comfort.

But even products are getting smarter, where Levi’s launched Levi’s Commuter jacket, a $350 denim jacket with 15 threads on the sleeve and Bluetooth connection allowing you to trigger actions (e.g. receive commuter directions, play music, answer calls,…) from a paired smartphone.

Introducing Levi’s® Commuter Trucker Jacket with Jacquard by Google - YouTube

AI as your fashion assistant

But it goes beyond the production process, many brands (e.g Tommy Hilfiger) have introduced AI-powered chatbots to interact with customers on channels like Facebook to serve customers’ needs anywhere and anytime. Key here is to add value, as customers don’t want to connect with bots just because they are in need of a chat, rather it’s about introducing small hacks that make consumers’ lives easier (read more on NextGen’s hackaton lifestyle in the frAGILE bookzine). Estée Lauder understood that the critical problem with e-fashion and e-beauty is the fact that customers cannot try out or test the product. By integrating augmented reality into their Lip Artist chatbot, they solved this friction, where the bot assists users in finding the right product and shade based on a photo, this way mirroring the in-store experience.

Hot tweetaway: How @EsteeLauder #lifehacked their way into consumers’ lives with their #LipArtist #chatbot insit.es/2GV75N3 by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #efashion #ebeauty #nextgen #geny #genz

ASOS recently incorporated a similar application in their app, although it goes even a step further. Using visual search technology, app users can upload a picture of the product they are searching for, which is then analyzed to find cross-references in the ASOS inventory. This closely taps into the growing needs of people spotting clothes and fashion items on TV or worn by celebrities and wanting to shop for a similar style. By identifying the shape, color and pattern, ASOS’ AI technology pushes the most relevant results from its collection.

Another example is Thread, the UK-based fashion retailer, whose core premise is to pair customers tailored recommendations on a weekly basis, based on the customers’ stylistic preferences. Customers can upload pictures of their favorite styles and clothes, which Thread’s AI system – also known as Thimble – uses to spot patterns to find the right item, in the right size.

But the assistance also comes with a phygital layer. Recently Amazon launched its Echo Look, the first AI style assistant in the comfort of your own bedroom. The technology allows to capture your outfit (picture and video) using voice command, allowing your inner fashionista to immerge and keep a diary of your favorite looks. Not sure what to wear? Echo look also provides style advice (no need to bother your partner anymore), simply upload two pictures and it will give recommendations based on current trends and what flatters you.

Introducing Echo Look. Love your look. Every day. - YouTube

AI store assistant

AI can also assist shoppers in-store, an example here is Macy’s in-store shopping assistant. The mobile webtool provides shoppers with real-time information as they navigate the store. Customers can ask questions ranging from where specific products are located to which services can be found in a particular store.

At a Store of the Future event, the luxury e-commerce platform Farfetch demonstrated the use of connected clothing racks and smart mirrors. The connected clothing rack records which items customers pick up, storing them in an app allowing customers to keep track of what they like when shopping, while the smart mirror allows shoppers to request a different size, look for items to finish their look and even pay without leaving the dressing room.

It is clear that esthetics and tech are blending and that AI is transforming the fashion industry as we speak. Tech and fashion go hand in hand, which is also something InSites Consulting found in a recent study together with Condé Nast, revealing that people with an interest in fashion are also more likely to adopt new technologies, bringing many opportunities for tech-fashion.

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The Adecco Group, the world’s leading provider of temporary staffing, permanent placement and career transition, have released a white paper that seeks to elucidate the growing trend of independent work – especially among younger generations. Independent work can go by many names and under many guises, but its growing importance is evident with The Adecco Group noting that “by some estimates, 20-30% of the working age population in developed countries are involved in flexible labor to some extent… this kind of work added $1.4 trillion to the US economy alone; in Europe, the annual figure is €270 billion”.

The Adecco Group asserts that the emergence of the gig economy is disruptive and that the “growth of the gig economy in which digital technology rapidly matches short-term employment needs with willing labor is reshaping the employment landscape”.

As a result of this growing trend, The Adecco Group, working alongside LinkedIn and InSites Consulting, sought to go beyond the numbers and to understand which motivations are driving this increase in independent workers and to what extent this is a welcome development.

Hot tweetaway: As more (young) professionals embrace #flexibleworking, the #gigeconomy blooms & marks the end of the #9to5 insit.es/2DCU4sE via @CoolBrands #nextgen #futureofwork #millennialsatwork #insites #mrx

Flexible work seen as a way of pursuing and reaching goals at their own pace

A survey among 100,000 of Adecco’s associates showed that the majority (54%) find flexible work as a means to pursue their own particular interests. The drive to reach their own goals and be in control of where they are going is seen as a more common motivator than being forced to engage in work that is a stop-gap before a permanent position becomes available – with 34% expressing this opinion.

InSites Consulting provided some more context to these feelings, focusing a deep-dive of activity on a long-running qualitative Consumer Consulting Board for Adecco that focuses on Gen Y trends and opinions towards work with over 100 participants aged 18-26 from all around the world. This research for The Adecco Group was alongside our own research into the attitudes of Millennials towards work found in our Millennials at Work bookzine.

We could see that the majority of independent workers do view independent work positively, feeling it gives them a control over their life that they do not anticipate finding in more formalized workplaces. Independent workers view themselves as highly skilled, entrepreneurial and self-employed, working at their own pace and in control of their own future. This strongly follows InSites Consulting’s own findings in its Millennials at Work paper which highlights that Millennials are more individually empowered than the generations that have come prior.

From The Adecco Group’s work with LinkedIn, this link with determining their own future can be seen. It is noted that a large percentage of the estimated 15 million independent workers active in Europe and the US have a higher education degree and on average work in roles with greater seniority than their peers with employment contracts. This sense of driving their own agenda forward and finding paths to success outside the more traditional routes available is no surprise – neither is their ability to reach seniority quicker than their contracted counterparts.

Shifting expectations in the labor market calls for a fresher look at the frameworks surrounding it

Having identified a growing group of workers that are content in their position and that also expect a growth in this sector, The Adecco Group also calls upon public institutions to help foster this development to open up the opportunity to more workers to pursue this course of employment. This includes a greater emphasis on educating younger generations in the skills that are required to thrive in this manner of work – in particular networking and project-based skills. A call to governments to allow for an even playing field in terms of social security systems so that “contingent workers can have the necessary protections without undermining the benefits of flexibility” is also put forward.

Lastly, they encourage “employers to reassess how they approach talent management and consider how they access the human capacity to get different business tasks done rather than simply hiring in-house employees to do so”.

Hot tweetaway: 3 recommendations to reassess your #talentmanagement approach insit.es/2DCU4sE via @CoolBrands #futureofwork #millennialsatwork #nextgen #insites #mrx

The need for employers to take on responsibility and reassess and potentially re-define their companies to appeal to a more empowered Millennial generation is explained in InSites Consulting’s Millennials at Work bookzine.

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Even as a young music lover, I’ve seen the music industry evolving over the past years. Today, streaming services form an important distribution platform for music, with Gen Z even growing up using these as their main entry point to music. GenYers, like myself, probably still remember the time when obtaining music was mainly done via peer-to-peer channels such as Kazaa, Bearshare and BitTorrent, while physical releases, such as CD and vinyl, were more important for older generations.

Last year, InSites Consulting bundled today´s marketing beliefs in three main Brand Religions: the Penetration Religion, the Influencer Religion and the Relationship Religion. When looking at how music is marketed nowadays, we can see a close link with branding and the use of different branding frameworks. In a series of three blogposts, we will shed a light on each of the three Brand Religions with regards to the music industry, as music is considered a religion by some.

Hot tweetaway: Applying @InSites #BrandReligion to the #musicindustry. Discover 2 #musicreleases following the Penetration Brand Religion insit.es/2DkMjHD by Mike Broeren via @CoolBrands #U2 #Radiohead #musicmarketing #nextgen

Releasing an album always has been and still is a key moment for artists and bands to generate attention and buzz. If we make the link to branding, do album releases fit into the Brand Religions? In this blogpost, we will focus on two releases which fit into the Penetration Religion.

Penetration Religion

Let’s start with a short recap. The Penetration Religion is based on research by Byron Sharp and Andrew Ehrenberg, which shows that penetration (i.e. growing your customer base) is the most important driver for growth. This is in contrast with more conventional marketing thinking which states that sales growth can come from both growth in customer base (penetration) and purchase frequency. Yet research by Sharp highlights that penetration is almost linearly correlated with market share, while purchase frequency does not differentiate much across brands in a given sector. Competing brands have the same purchase frequency, which means this is not an accurate predictor of market share. Furthermore, loyalty, which most marketers strive for, is not as strong as people think. The Pareto rule (80% of revenues is made by 20% of our customers) does not apply and 100% brand loyalty does not exist. Therefore, according to this religion, each customer is equally important.

What should we do to reach as much penetration as possible according to this religion? Brands should undertake two main actions in their marketing:

1. Build (mental and physical) availability

Mental availability refers to your brand being top-of-mind when the need for your product arises. Think about Red Bull being top-of-mind when a consumer thinks about “the need for energy”. So be top-of-mind and be salient with regard to substitutes and competitors.

Physical availability refers to your brand being available (easy to purchase in as many buying situations as possible) when the need arises. Think about Coca-Cola’s “within arm’s reach of desire”.

2. Repeat brand activations through mass marketing. You should focus on all consumers and not on a select few.

So, let’s take a look at two album releases which use this thinking.

U2’s mass penetration via Apple

If you are an Apple lover, you might remember the 2014 release of U2’s ‘Songs for Innocence’. Apple paid the band a large fee to (pre-)release the album which Apple then released for free as a surprise gift for account holders of the Apple iTunes Store. By doing so, the album was installed on the phones of 500 million people. In their press release, Bono stated: “From the very beginning, U2 always wanted our music to reach as many people as possible […] It’s exciting and humbling to think that people who don’t know U2 or listen to rock music for that matter might check us out.”. This approach, one could argue, was a solid way to increase their user base (one of the core principles behind the Penetration Religion).

Hot tweetaway: U2 & Apple; the ultimate example of the Penetration #BrandReligion in the music industry? insit.es/2DkMjHD by Mike Broeren via @CoolBrands #musicmarketing #InSites #songsforinnocence #musicreleases #nextgen

So how did it work out?

The Apple  wasn’t exactly small, since the 11 songs took up 60MB of space. Hence, the gift wasn’t appreciated by everyone. Some consumers even felt Apple harmed their privacy. As a result, Apple was forced to build a tool to easily delete the album from the iTunes Store, which, in a way, could be considered as their admission of failure. Furthermore, U2 might have found out they were not as relevant as they used to be. Research has shown that about one in four Apple users actually listened to U2 via the giveaway. U2 however managed to sell out 76 concerts in the tour following the release. Yet the question remains whether they managed to sustainably grow their user base, or whether the users were only existing fans who would show up anyway.

Really, it’s up to you – pay Radiohead what you want

Early 21st century, it was all about the leaking of albums, just think of Napster. For their much-anticipated album, Kid A, Radiohead decided not to provide their record label with singles or videos and they basically avoided the press. However, their label pre-released the album via one of the first streaming services available on 1,000 selected websites. Within hours, the album had been rerouted and was distributed unofficially via Napster, which frustrated the band largely (although this caused a hype and the album entered the Billboard charts as #1).

Radiohead no longer wanted anyhing to do with the traditional press-driven hype releases, so when the contract with their former label finished, they decided to take up their own management. For the launch of their latest album, they decided to leak it themselves. This new album, In Rainbows, was released via InRainbows.com, where people could download it for a limited time and pay as much (or as little) as they wanted. Later on, a deluxe box of the album also became available. Radiohead can be considered as a pioneer using a Pay Your Own Price (PYOP) strategy.

So, how did it work out?

No accurate numbers exist on the actual sales of the PYOP release. Both the band and the publisher said the online and in-store sales were very good. In Rainbows peaked on the #1 spot in the charts and went on to sell millions. Despite the album being available freely, piracy takeout even increased compared to other albums, so in a way the original goal of Radiohead did not succeed. However, in terms of physical and mental availability, Radiohead did a good job with their new album. The industry talked about them and obtaining the album (i.e. physical availability) was as easy as ever. And the album also grew their user base with at least one (taking into account myself).

Hot tweetaway: How Radiohead’s #PYOP Pay your own Price strategy shook up the #musicindustry insit.es/2DkMjHD by Mike Broeren via @CoolBrands #InSites #BrandReligion #musicmarketing #musicreleases #nextgen

Penetration Religion in music

We have seen two examples from the music industry of releases which fit into the Penetration-Religion thinking. The U2 example may have been more marketing-driven than the Radiohead example. Nowadays, with the success of streaming services, music is becoming increasingly more available. However, not all music releases are increasing physical and mental availability, as we will see in the next posts, so stay tuned!

Eager for more? Get your free download of the Brand Religion bookzine!

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Remember that last app you thought would finally teach you how to invest your money and check off that box in your adulting to do list? Stash was created for people who don’t have a lot of financial experience but desperately want it, and they want it now. As of 2016, an estimated 2/3 of Americans couldn’t pass a basic financial literacy test, meaning they got fewer than four answers correct on a five-question quiz. 80% of U.S. adults agree they could benefit from advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional. When it comes to managing money, only 17% of millennials report feeling prepared. And out of all potential target audiences, millennials don’t just feel unprepared, they’re also extremely vocal about it.

Hot tweetaway: Only 17% of #Millennials feel prepared to manage money insit.es/2mxdODo via @CoolBrands #fintech #finance #geny #nextgen #stash #insites

Stash has chosen to target millennials who want to explore the idea of investing their money but don’t want to risk losing it all. Millennials might not be financial gurus right now, but they are eager to learn the ropes, especially when it comes to investing. The problem is that many of them have been scarred by the Great Recession, and now they’re afraid to lose their precious, heard-earned cash. 49% of all millennials say that the 2008 financial crisis changed the way they think about saving/investing/spending.

Enter Stash…

NextGen (aka everyone born after 1980) audiences grew up in times of technological (r)evolution, but they are also financially inexperienced and afraid of risk, making them a fickly fintech target. So why has Stash been able to capture nearly 1.5 million customers and raise $80 million total capital in only 2 years? In frAGILE (a NextGen marketing bookzine), Joeri Van den Bergh and Katia Pallini conclude that as a result, NextGen interact differently with brands than their parents and grandparents. Stash hits the nail on the head of a couple key trends we uncovered and as a result has provided examples of opportunities where fintech as a whole can learn and build.

Hot tweetaway: 6 things #fintech can learn from the @Stash success story insit.es/2mxdODo via @CoolBrands #finance #nextgen #millennials #invest #geny #insites

6 things fintech can learn from the Stash success story

1. NextGen is always looking for having things done rapidly, easily, and hassle-free, making them a real shortcut generation.

Fintech must simplify their financial processes, previously seen by many as black boxes, into a few simple steps.

Why is this accessibility important? Because NextGen doesn’t respond well to brands who play hard to get. In terms of user experience, they expect things now, as fast and easy as possible, so brands need to provide top-notch user experiences, reducing the time and efforts on the customer’s side. By making onboarding as simple as possible, Stash cuts clicks to a minimum so that people will come back for more.

2. NextGen develop their identity through a cocktail of micro-interests which do not necessarily have to add up to one single focus point.

Fintech must adapt in order to cater to these seemingly scatterbrained passion points. Stash allows users to invest their money in as many contrasting causes as their hearts desire by allowing them to choose from over 30 ETFs (defined on the Stash website as an investment baskets bundled into a fund that is traded on an exchange – Exchange-Traded Funds). These investment bundles are separated into three categories: “I believe”, “I want” and “I like” allowing users to invest their money in as many contrasting causes as their hearts desire.

3. The notion of investment based on believing, wanting, and liking provides a nice segway into another NextGen attribute.

They are unpredictable switchers that use their own value system for choosing products and brands. Fintech can do this by connecting users to causes they care about. Stash has tapped into this insight by including ETF options such as “Do the Right Thing”, showcasing socially responsible businesses that make positive impacts on the environment, social, and governance issues; “Water the World” supporting global water companies; and “Small but Mighty”, standing up for small, capitalized companies that have room to grow.

4. Specific brands aren’t king anymore, like they were for GenXers and Baby Boomers; for NextGen, it’s about what you can DO with the brand/product.

By taking the focus off of brands, fintech can put it back on the individual and what he or she wants to accomplish. In Stash, the actual brands included in each ETF aren’t obvious on the interface. You only see them once you choose a specific category.

5. The infinite connectedness brought about by technological revolution has created an expectation for transparency—a democratizing of information.

Investing has traditionally been seen a competitive enterprise, available to those who have lots of cash. But in order to engage with NextGen, fintech must do away with this individualistic approach to finance and embrace a culture of collaboration. Brandon Krieg and Ed Robinson, Co-Founders of Stash, have not only made investing simple, as explained previously, but they have gone to great lengths to provide ample information to Stash users, through an in-app “Learn” page featuring articles that answer questions as basic as “What is a hedge fund?” and “What’s the CFPB?” Stash also created its own podcast, “Teach me How to Money”. Through the democratizing of investment information, Krieg and Robinson have created a sharing culture from the top down.

6. What makes Stash a disruptor in the fintech landscape is this—not only have users accepted this sharing culture from the top down, but they’ve also embraced it from the bottom up.

Stash investors have created a collaborative Facebook group dedicated to providing each other with investment advice and sharing their own experience with each of the different ETFs. What’s going on here? Users are mimicking brand culture behavior, and this is the ultimate indicator of brand identity fit, especially in a category where sharing information is not a commonly adopted behavior.

Fintech has an opportunity here, and it starts with listening to the NextGen voice. Stash did this, and now it’s valued at $240 million, according to Business Insider. That’s a lot of money…but the look on your dad’s face after you’ve just brought up the dividend yield on your Blue Chip portfolio at the holiday dinner table, that’s priceless.

Hot tweetaway: What makes @Stash a #disruptor in the #fintech landscape? Listening to the #NextGen voice insit.es/2mxdODo via @CoolBrands #invest #finance #geny #millennials #insites

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Today we hosted our frAGILE: Is NextGen marketing more chemistry than science? webinar with Joeri Van den Bergh. A 1hour live YouTube broadcast on how to speed up your NextGen marketing…

In today’s post-truth society change comes rapidly and unexpectedly. We’re living in a world where facts can be alternative facts, where truth and stability are hard to find and where gender and age are blurring . To cope with this fragile environment, NextGen (Gen Y & Z) consumers developed an agile mind and they expect the same agility, speed and good sense of brands. Based on dozens of international expert interviews with senior marketing executives of renowned brands (such as PepsiCo, LEGO, Freitag, LEVI’s, Beiersdorf, Audible, MasterCard, AB InBev, eBay, IKEA, Tommy Hilfiger…), the frAGILE story shares insights on brands that bond beyond disruption.

So tune in to YouTube and hear the frAGILE story first-hand from NextGen expert Joeri Van den Bergh.

frAGILE: Is NextGen marketing more chemistry than science? - YouTube

Would you like to read more on NextGen and how the fragile world impacts their take on life and how they deal with brands? Have a look at our new frAGILE: Is NextGen marketing more chemistry than science bookzine (based on dozens of international expert interviews with senior marketing executives of renowned brands such as PepsiCo, LEGO, Freitag, LEVI’s, Beiersdorf, Audible, MasterCard, AB InBev, eBay, IKEA, Tommy Hilfiger…).

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Whether you took a marketing course 20 years ago or are just about to graduate in marketing or any related field, the notion of the 4 Ps (i.e. product, place, price and promotion) must have appeared in one of your text books. The concept’s founder, Philip Kotler, can be considered as the father of modern marketing. And although his thinking is often challenged in these post-modern times, the Kotlerian thinking is still the foundation of many brand strategies and is applied frequently in today’s marketing plans. Yet in recent years, some new frameworks have gained momentum, which we grouped in three schools of thought or Brand Religions, as InSites Consulting likes to call them:

  • Penetration Religion – inspired by the work of Byron Sharp, this religion dethrones some of the most popular Kotlerian marketing principles (such as the concept of customer loyalty). It emphasizes the importance of penetration through customer acquisition by building physical and mental availability.
  • Influencer Religion – this branding framework is all about marketing through people rather than to people by creating a ripple effect and leveraging the power of conversations.
  • Relationship Religion – marketing efforts in this thinking focus on building an emotional bond and long-term relationship with consumers.

Each of these religions provides a framework on how to grow your brand and connect with your consumer. While some of these religions preach brand love, others reject the concept of loyalty. There is no one framework fits all, which is proven by the diffusion of successful brands throughout all three religions (and even four, if you include the Kotlerian Classic Religion). But what about branding and marketing to the youngest generations? Does brand love (and loyalty) (still) exist amongst today’s youth?

Hot tweetaway: Do #brandlove & #brandloyalty (still) exist among today’s #youth? insit.es/2A6fOJ4 by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #nextgen #insites #geny #genz #brandreligion #marketing

Generation Z as well as their Millennial counterparts are a key audience for many brands. It is a financially wealthy generation, which, besides spending its own resources, has a major decision in what is purchased within the household.

When thinking of youth marketing, the notion of influencer marketing interchangeably comes to mind. Should brands follow an Influencer Religion strategy to appeal to the next generation and thus follow the Influencer Religion? We asked 26 senior marketing executives for their views on marketing and branding towards the youngest generation.

Polygamous Love

Today’s youth grew up in a world of over-choice and endless possibilities. This abundance of everything has triggered their curiosity and fueled the development of so called micro-interests (one of the concepts of our frAGILE bookzine as discussed in our interview with Audible), also when it comes to the use of brands. Unlike the previous generations which would cling to the same brand(s) since their childhood to express themselves, this generation has a more multidimensional relationship with brands. They look for brands that can help craft their unique selves. Brands are still used to crafting their brand identity, but not by means of one single brand – their identity is multi-layered and as such so is their brand consumption. However, being volatile by nature, their use and love for brands can change from one moment to another. Or as Julia Michaels puts it in her song Issues – “I could love you just like that and I could leave you just this fast”.

One could argue that the notion of brand love and (as such also) loyalty has shifted. NextGen still feels the love for certain brands, although this love is not exclusive and by definition lasting. There is no one true love and brands need to work hard to keep the spark alive and the love in place.

Marketers agree that brand loyalty has changed, that it has been redefined. Although this generation is constantly on the move, also when it comes to the use of brands, today’s youth still shares certain feelings for certain brands. Loyalty still exists, yet it is more fragile. It is a constantly changing concept, with loyalty in its pure form being hard to reach. One could say that the notion of polygamous loyalty as defined by Byron Sharp is more valid amongst the youngest generations, as they switch around between rival brands according to their needs and relevant occasions.

Hot tweetaway: #BrandLoyalty has been redefined by #NextGen insit.es/2A6fOJ4 by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #geny #genz #polygamousloyalty #brandreligion #insites

Influ-mercial

The connected generation grew up in a world of advertising clutter. With approximately 40,000 brand impressions reaching them daily, they have installed natural blinds to cope with this ad overdose. They can see through a commercial agenda. To connect with them, brands need to reveal their true selves, their realness. In this quest for authentic messages, brands have found their way to influencer marketing. Influencers are the new reality stars; their success lies in their roots, with many of them having started their story in a fragile way, broadcasting their real selves through their computer webcam. Although kids and teens are aware of the often-commercial layer behind these life-casters, these influencers are becoming brand marks on their own.

People are the new brands and this is also demonstrated by the power of vloggers and social influencers. Influencer marketing allows to connect with today’s youth, yet one can find successful NextGen brands throughout all the brand religion frameworks. Regardless of your brand religion, influencers are key and should be seen as just another important channel in the marketing mix. Whether you are a believer of mass marketing or not and regardless of whether you are focusing on penetration, building an emotional band with consumers, strengthening distinctive assets or leveraging the power of word-of-mouth, influencers are the new media.

Hot tweetaway: People are the new brands according to #NextGen insit.es/2A6fOJ4 by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #influencermarketing #geny #genz #brandreligion

There isn’t a holy grail framework when it comes to NextGen marketing; the truth lies in all beliefs and visions. Brands need to understand who they are as a brand and pursue a religion that matches their brand strategy.

Eager for more? Get your free download of the Brand Religion bookzine and/or the frAGILE: Is NextGen marketing more chemistry than science bookzine. Or sign up for our free webinar on frAGILE on December 12!

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