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We have all heard of the detoxes and cleanses that claim to clean the body by eliminating the harmful toxins. Many celebrities, like Gwyneth Paltrow and her goop detox, are swearing by those diets. Some are also proud to flaunt it on social media, like American actress Kristin Cavallari who is ‘feeling like a new woman’ after completing a detox cure.

In recent years, the traditional low-fat diets have had to make room for new diet trends such as Keto (a low-carb, high-fat diet, where the body produces ketones in the liver to be used as energy), Paleo (with its ‘if cavemen didn’t eat it, neither should you’ thinking)… Besides eating healthily, consumers search for a sense of meaning behind their actions, even when it comes to their eating habits. As a result of that behavior, veganism, the practice of abstaining from all animal products, has been on the rise. Many initiatives promote this new dietary form, such as Veganuary, a charity inspiring people to try veganism in January (and maybe continue the rest of the year). At its launch, 3300 people signed up for the initiative; in 2018 the number (of official website registrations) was 168,000. This quest for a healthy and conscious food lifestyle is especially present amongst the younger generations, with 60% of the Veganuary participants aged under 35.

Hot tweetaway: Why #NextGen is increasingly going #vegan  insit.es/2IGtwG8 by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #coolbrands #foodtrends #purpose #geny #millennials #genz

Experts predict that veganism will go mainstream in 2018; this claim is supported by the rise of new restaurants, food delivery boxes (e.g. Purple Carrot) and food options tapping into this new popular dietary form. And many music festivals and events are also jumping on the vegan bandwagon. Less than two months before headlining Coachella in April, Beyoncé for example announced that she was adopting a vegan diet for 44 days as part of her Coachella training regime. Attendees of the festival were also spoiled with a plethora of vegan options to choose from as you can see on this Instagram post by Eat Drink Vegan announcing all the vegan food vendors that would be attending.

While people are becoming more conscious of their food choices, it seems there is definitely room for indulgence. Maintaining a healthy eating habit is not always as easy as pie; sometimes we need to give in to a little indulgence to keep our spirits high. The 80/20 rule in food is a good example of allowing yourself treats while maintaining a healthy diet, as it states that we should eat nutritious foods 80 percent of the time and allow ourselves to indulge a little the other 20 percent.

Yet it seems that the health craze has brought the cheating game to a whole new level, with cheat days being part of the weekly mix and the mantra being ‘if you cheat, you’d better cheat right’. One example is the so-called Freakshakes, where the idea is to pile as much of every sweet thing you can possibly imagine on top of cold brewed coffee, chocolate milk or milk. A large part of the drink’s appeal (if it still can be called a drink) is due to its social media success and Instagram worthiness of the often-beautiful sweet creations.

Hot tweetaway: NextGen’s food mantra: if you cheat, you’d better cheat right insit.es/2IGtwG8 by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #coolbrands #foodtrends #purpose #nextgen #geny #millennials #genz

The shakes have become hugely popular and so have multiple other extreme indulgence concepts, such as cookie dough bars, Thai rolled ice cream, colorful soft serves…

In the midst of this health craze, it seems that we all occasionally crave for a portion of cheat treats. And that if we do go overboard, we do it right. Life is too short not to enjoy it to the fullest, so savor those cheat days and if you dare, have a go for that (vegan) Freakshake.

Co-written with Abbas Gamsoré, Marketing trainee at InSites Consulting

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When I told my parents a few months ago that my main holiday destination for 2018 was going to be the Philippines, there was frowning in all possible directions, followed by the comment: “Why always so far? We didn’t do any of this at your age.” Which brings me straight to the essence of this blog: blame it on me being part of NextGen, the tech-savvy, experience-seeking AND Wanderlust generation: the so-called Tripsters.

Wander-WHAT?

To quote the Urban Dictionary (or just Wikipedia), Wanderlust can be defined as ‘a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel & explore the world’ – which is basically something lots of NextGen’ers (including me) suffer from. According to a recent Ypulse study, 96% of our generation is interested in traveling and getting out of our comfort zones. We aim to explore the world, discover new places and spend our money on unique experiences (rather than big purchases), which leads to us going on at least 3 or 4 trips a year – the further, the better.

Hot tweetaway: 96% of #NextGen is interested in traveling and getting out of their comfort zones insit.es/2IYfAHq by @MasNatalie via @CoolBrands #wanderlust #nextgen #millennials #geny #travel #tripsters

Wander-WHY?

Okay, so we are true experience seekers. We love mapping our own itineraries and planning our trips, pushing boundaries, embracing the ordinary and discovering shortcuts that will allow us to cut costs without sacrificing any element of the experience. But above all, we aspire an authentic connection with others and with the world. The further we travel, the closer we want to be to other travelers on the one hand and to locals on the other: think locally-owned accommodations, the charm of local guides, visits to local producers and artisans and buying their products. Connecting with and contributing to the local community makes us feel we are doing the right thing – which fits perfectly in our quest for (macro)meaning.

Not to forget that we are still a social (media) generation, using our mobiles from beginning to end as a reference item, from searching for Instagram-worthy locations and making bookings to mapping out our routes and keeping our social channels up-to-date with pictures and (live) videos.

Wander-HOW?

In short: we, NextGen, are suffering from Wanderlust big time and at the same time we are redefining the travel landscape as you know it. This makes us the fastest-growing (and most interesting) customer segment within the travel/ hospitality industry

But how can brands attract and evolve together with us, young adult travelers? Here are 3 things you need to remember:

1. Offer us an experience to remember

The last number of years, a lot of new travel and hospitality initiatives have popped up to offer young travelers an optimized travel experience, and successfully so. Srps.me for example offers trips to surprise destinations based on your personal preferences. Another one is the Ark: a 5-day festival cruise, taking you along different cities and islands whilst you can sunbathe and dance the day (and night) away. The power is in the mix, one could say, and it’s true. Just think about Tomorrowland’s Global Journey packages and their new initiative Tomorrowland Winter, combining the best of both (the festival -and winter holiday) worlds.

Also, the hotel business is now all about creating and selling experiences, with brand-new packages and offerings especially for the younger generations: Marriott Moxy Chain, Hilton Curio and Thomas Cook’s Casa Cook are but a few of the cool examples.

Hot tweetaway: Why the power is in the mix to offer young travelers an optimized travel experience to remember insit.es/2IYfAHq by @MasNatalie via @CoolBrands #wanderlust #nextgen #millennials #geny #travel #tripsters

2. Appeal to our best travel pal: our mobile

Being an impatient generation that wants to get things done whenever we want, wherever we want, one can assume our mobile is our main travel pal. We use it for every step of our travel cycle: before, during & after. And that’s where brands come in. There already are a lot of travel apps out there to assist you in every step, yet lately travel and hospitality instances have been experimenting with more advanced technology in travel marketing, introducing AI & VR. A lot of tourism instances for example now offer 360° VR videos, to help you choose your destination. Emirates Airlines recently turned its banner ads into chatbots, to help travelers with questions and bookings. And if you need packing assistance, there’s KLM’s smart packing assistance, an interactive voice-driven pack assistant on Google Home. And these are only some top examples, so a lot more of time-saving initiatives will come our way.

Hot tweetaway: How brands can attract young adult travelers by appealing to their #mobile insit.es/2IYfAHq by @MasNatalie via @CoolBrands #wanderlust #nextgen #millennials #geny #travel #tripsters

3. Let us go glocal

Whilst discovering the world, young travelers are more inclined to design their trips around authentic, cultural experiences. Go global & meet the local is very hot in travel business lately, with for example Airbnb also offering local experiences (like cooking classes, guided local tours, etc.) to travelers, next to their accommodation platform offer. And hotels are also participating in these offerings: global hotel group Accor hotels for example recently launched AccorLocal, an app to connect travelers with local businesses and offer non-guests the chance to use their hotel services.

Hot tweetaway: Young travelers are all about going glocal: go global whilst discovering the local insit.es/2IYfAHq by @MasNatalie via @CoolBrands #wanderlust #nextgen #millennials #geny #travel #tripsters #glocal

Yet again the power is in the mix; whatever works to contribute to NextGen’s Wanderlust giant bucket list, right? So, summer’s coming up and travel plans are being made.

Where will you be heading?

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What if the legendary Burger King Whopper was no longer available? This was demonstrated in a Grand Effie winning documentary-style campaign where the flagship Whopper sandwich had been taken off the menu. The resulting TV spots showed the reactions of real (very angry) customers when receiving the news that the Whopper had been discontinued. This might just be an ad, but would you care equally if your usual breakfast cereal disappeared from the store shelves or if your usual shampoo stopped being sold? Apparently not, as research by Havas Media Group revealed that people would not mind if 74% of the brands they use every day would cease to exist. Alongside this, the survey also shows that 75% of consumers expect brands to contribute to their quality of life.

More than ever do brands need to have a clear purpose, but it goes beyond that. While in the past brands were expected to appeal to the mass, carefully considering each outgoing statement and avoiding actions that could be seen as socially, economically or politically controversial, today’s consumers expect companies to take a stand on issues.

Hot tweetaway: #NextGen expects brands to take a stand on social, economic and political issues https://insit.es/2IoyAyh by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #purpose #nextgen #geny

According to the 2017 Edelman Earned brand study, 30% of consumers say to make belief-driven purchase decisions more than they did three years ago. And this is especially true for NextGen, purpose seekers on a personal quest for meaningful lives, macro-meaning. This is also reflected in what they expect from brands: they should add up to this meaningfulness, have a purpose and care for the world they are taking from. The Edelman study confirms this thinking, showing that 60% of Millennials can be considered to be belief-purchase buyers that will switch, change or even boycott a brand if it isn’t conform their ideology.

Hot tweetaway: 60% of #Millennials are purpose buyers who will switch brands that don’t match their ideology https://insit.es/2IoyAyh by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #purpose #beliefbuyers #nextgen #geny cc @EdelmanPR

Adidas for example launched a campaign recently supporting women with the message to free themselves from standards. When asked whether the ad, which was considered to be very feministic, was trying to encourage women to me more aggressive, the brand commented smartly: “Our women’s crew is not promoting aggression but is on a mission. The mission to free themselves from the standards and constant social judgment. They take originality into their own hands and create their own path”. This campaign goes alongside the androgynous collection the brand recently launched.

Heineken’s ‘Worlds Apart’ campaign featured a social experiment where people with different points of view (a feminist and an anti-feminist, a right-wing man and a transgender woman, a climate conservative and an activist) were invited to work together and build a bar. The campaign gave a new dimension to the brand’s ’Open Your World’ mantra. The three duos are discussing personalities while assembling the bar furniture, yet only after having built the bar, a is film shown of each person presenting their (extreme) beliefs. They are then given a choice to either walk away or sit down and discuss their opposing beliefs over a beer. As part of this, Heineken is also partnering with The Human Library, a nonprofit organization that uses conversation to challenge stereotypes.

Heineken | Worlds Apart | #OpenYourWorld - YouTube

More and more brands are showing their real colors by taking a stand. The days when functional benefits ruled marketing are over; brands need to demonstrate purpose beyond profit-making. Yet Corporate Social Responsibility no longer is a simple checkbox; it should be part of a brand’s manifest to support a social cause or challenge issues in an overly polarized world. However, this is where it is essential to have a natural connection with the purpose you are supporting; you need to have an honest agenda beyond wanting to create marketing buzz.

Hot tweetaway: Brands need to show their real colors by demonstrating purpose beyond profit-making https://insit.es/2IoyAyh by @KPallini via @CoolBrands #purposemarketing #nextgen #geny

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Last Sunday, the most important & exciting award ceremony of the year took place in LA, California: the Oscars. So, what did we learn from this 90th Academy Award edition – apart from the fact that ‘The Shape of Water’ was the biggest winner of the night? That this year’s ceremony wasn’t just about celebrating the motion picture masterpieces, it was also about claiming awareness around social & political issues. And it’s not the first award ceremony of that kind this year. It seems that it has become a recurring affair lately, that high-profile ceremonies are used for putting not only people but also social & political issues in the spotlight.

Hot tweetaway: What brands can learn from the 90th edition of the Academy Award #Oscars insit.es/2tsAawK by @MasNatalie via @CoolBrands #influencers #purpose #nextgen #speechispower #geny

Orange is the new black

And what better way to do so, than by already making a statement on the red carpet? Because it’s a fact, the red carpet is thé best place to catch global attention. This year, it wasn’t specifically about WHO you were wearing, but WHAT you were wearing. At the Golden Globes and Baftas, the red carpet turned black, while the Grammy’s and BRIT Awards were marked by white roses pinned to the finest & most expensive (again black) dresses and tuxedos. Last week, we could say that orange was the new black. All for a reason: making a statement with a dress code.

While the black-dress code at the Golden Globes and Baftas was all about making a point about sexual abuse in the film industry (following the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements), the white roses at the Grammy’s & BRIT Awards were in support of gender equality. At the Oscars however, orange pins & ribbons were the must-have accessory. The pins – supporting advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety – want to raise awareness around legal gun ownership after the bloodbath in Florida last month, where a 19-year-old killed 17 teenagers at his old school.

Speech is power

One could say that this makes the red-carpet celebrities kind of influencers, not only off stage, but also on stage. Think about winning actress Frances McDormand making a powerful speech when she accepted her award and inviting all female nominees to stand up in solidarity.

Not to mention Oprah’s astonishing speech at the Golden Globes, which even resulted in her being named as candidate for becoming the next president of the United States.

Oprah Winfrey Receives Cecil B. de Mille Award at the 2018 Golden Globes - YouTube

So, 5 major events, 3 major social issues, 100+ celebrities making a statement, reaching billions of people. Purpose achieved? I think so, because we can all agree these events have triggered the discussion about these issues even more, not only amongst friends and family, but also at higher political levels. Proof-point: as from today, the parliament of Florida has approved a new gun policy, where the minimum age to purchase any firearm has now been raised from 18 to 21.

Thinking of NextGen, a generation that’s dreaming of creating a better society, a better world, these kinds of initiatives are exactly what they are supporting as well: putting social issues in the spotlight to make sure something happens. This generation is on a personal quest for meaningful lives. That is why these kinds of big initiatives are perfectly in line with their purpose-seeking behavior.

Hot tweetaway: How the #redcarpet reflects #NextGen’s purpose-seeking behavior. Making a statement with a dress code insit.es/2tsAawK by @MasNatalie via @CoolBrands #geny #oscars #purpose #influencers #marketing

And I don’t think we’ve seen the last of it. To say it in Annabella Sciorra’s words at last Sunday’s ceremony: “It’s nice to see you all again. This year, many spoke their truth and the journey ahead is long, but slowly a new path has emerged.”

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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 .

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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