In a world of digitized transactions, face-to-face commerce can feel downright old school. We’ve grown accustomed to the convenient wealth of information available to us as part of the online consumer journey. Of course, this has made a web presence imperative to every successful marketing strategy. But there are plenty of industries which still rely heavily on in-person interactions. Fortunately, these established touchpoints can now leverage augmented reality (AR) technology to create customized engagement opportunities able to compete with the unique experiences brands can offer via the Internet.
AR is a real-time view of the physical world that has been altered with computer-generated stimuli such as graphics, video or sound. AR marketing enhances consumer encounters with personalized content that fosters a meaningful connection. And it can do so across industries where live exchanges with consumers inevitably mean more revenue. Here are three traditional in-person experiences that could stand to benefit from the modernization inherent in augmented reality.
1. Brick and mortar shops.
With competition from delivery services like Peapod and AmazonFresh, customer retention is of utmost importance to conventional grocery stores. Some chains have rolled out loyalty cards to satisfy their customers’ needs by tracking and offering discounts on frequently purchased items…and to give their cashiers more things to ask you about during checkout. According to Supermarket News, when retailers use shopper data mined from such programs and apply it to pricing, promotions and assortment, they can see a 4%-7% increase in gross profits.
Now imagine a customer loyalty platform which allows access to additional layers of purchaser information by incorporating augmented reality marketing in the form of personalized touchpoints that build a bond between the consumer and retailer. A PwC poll showed that 52% of respondents felt the in-store experience is a major feature that brings them back. So an app that scans the produce section, offering tips to help pick the freshest fruits and vegetables, or gives meal prep advice and side dish suggestions when selecting meats would give the store a competitive edge over its e-retailer counterparts by adding value to the shopping trip.
2. The real estate industry.
The real estate industry could use AR technology to take the home buying experience to the next level. Currently, agents spend up to $2,500 “staging” a property for potential purchasers by making it look like a cozy and comfortable model home, not unlike you do the first time you plan to invite a date back to your place. Tactics may include depersonalizing and decluttering or minimalizing furniture to show off the size of the space. By positioning a property in its best possible light, it will spend 72 percent less time on the market and generally sell for more money according to the Real Estate Staging Association.
But what if staging could be customized based on applying buyer preferences with augmented reality technology? A family likely to update a traditional home with modern design elements could view these modifications through a realtor’s AR app, or they could turn what was a basic guest room into an inviting children’s playroom by seeing bright colors on the walls and an overflowing toy chest. An empty backyard could be altered with images of a perfectly placed fire pit or a party-friendly pool and hot tub. By offering these visualizations, augmented reality tools can take buyers beyond the limitations of virtual video tours, actively making a house for sale feel less like someone else’s space and more like their very own dream home.
3. Entertainment and event marketing.
An effective hashtag can be crucial to promoting an event as these callouts help attendees organize their experiences and stay virtually connected to the occasion, which is why bridezillas now agonize over generating the perfect one. Better still is for marketers to actually provide participants with unique content they can share via social media to pique their friends’ and followers’ interest in what they’re up to.
An augmented reality application could easily place the image of a concert-goer on center stage right next to the performer, allowing them to forgo the expensive meet and greet tickets to get virtually up close and personal with their favorite singer or band. Similar technology could layer a photo of an excited football fan into a shot of the end zone without the risk of getting tackled by players twice his size. By including a feature that allows these generated photos to be screengrabbed and shared straight to Facebook, Instagram, etc. the interactivity of the event has been heightened with unique pictures far surpassing the average cell phone shots taken at concerts and games. Given that a Ticketfly study showed that almost a third of 18-34-year-olds are using their phones during half of an event or longer, organizers can and should be using AR to steer this usage in a way that will help sell future tickets.
From small businesses to large events, a variety of traditional industries could stand to benefit from these unprecedented augmented reality marketing opportunities. The sky truly is the limit, and it could very easily be augmented, by any organizations willing to take advantage of AR.
The U.S. real estate market is well on its way to recovering from the 2008 collapse and in part, has China to thank. In 2015, according to a study from the Asia Society and Rosen Consulting Group, Chinese investors pumped $37.1 billion into American commercial and residential properties. By 2020, that total is projected to reach a staggering $218 billion.
As the population of China’s high net worth individuals continues to grow at rates which exceed the world average, American real estate agents can capitalize on their known propensity to invest in opportunities abroad. Here are some ways that you can be sure potential Chinese investors will keep you in mind when looking for overseas properties.
1. Establish a Presence
Studies have shown that about 45% of Chinese consumers learn about products through social channels, websites or blogs so it’s crucial that you utilize these owned touchpoints to connect with buyers. Customized landing pages featuring well-designed listings give your brand credibility and blogs are great for educating investors about what you’re selling. Social media is now an absolute necessity as it’s ideal for interacting directly with prospects. The key is to make yourself accessible. Because if your exes can’t track you down on the Internet, then your buyers won’t be able to find you either.
2. Know the Influencers
Luxury brands have found great success leveraging the impact that online influencers have on Chinese consumers, not only by utilizing key opinion leaders but also by working with “Micro-Influencers” who enjoy fewer but more devoted enthusiasts. China has the largest population in the world so marketing to its entirety is like casting your net in a giant ocean. Instead try hitting a much smaller pond by targeting the niche audiences of lesser known fan favorites. You should seek out and then build a relationship with a personality that has some established following as well as expertise in applicable areas like real estate, architecture, etc.
3. Be Culturally Sensitive
Though Chinese buyers often purchase American properties sight unseen, they are known for being cautious consumers. To help them feel comfortable, you should be aware of their customs and prepare to answer their questions in appropriate ways. You should also tailor your pitch to ensure it resonates with this audience or, more importantly, that it doesn’t scare them off. For instance, the number 4 is a homonym for the word “death” in Chinese. So you should avoid using this number whenever possible in pricing or marketing materials lest these targets associate your listings with their own demise. Ultimately, educating yourself on the specific needs and spending habits of China’s luxury goods consumers will pay off when it comes time to close long-distance deals.
4. Climb the Firewall
Targeting Chinese investors means working around China’s very strict laws about Internet content and usage. For example, your marketing efforts should avoid incorporating platforms such as YouTube, instead using Chinese video hosting sites like Youku, Qiyi or Tudou. You’ll also want to make sure your site is optimized for Baidu, China’s version of Google. And as for that social media presence we suggested you establish, consider building one on popular networking sites like WeChat or Weibo. Just be sure to keep in mind that half of all Chinese citizens use the Internet, so presenting unique content is imperative to cutting through the clutter. For example, because these consumers have shown to be drawn to narratives about things like love and success, consider incorporating such forms of storytelling to make your listings come to life and draw prospects into your pitches.
5. Embrace Mobile Marketing
China is now home to over 1.3 billion mobile users and nearly everyone in the country owns a cell phone. Therefore it’s no surprise that mobile advertising spends make up over 22% of total ad spends there, a higher level than any other market in the world. When building out your Chinese marketing strategy, be sure to include mobile marketing opportunities that will showcase your available properties to investors on the go.
Given that in 2015, the average price for an American home purchased by Chinese buyers was $831,000, this is a group clearly ready and willing to make large investments in U.S. real estate and one that you should absolutely target with culturally appropriate efforts that will reach potential consumers in China.
With its rapidly growing middle class and their increasing disposable incomes, it’s easy to understand why your organization should consider advertising in China. But it’s quite difficult for a brand to effectively expand into this market with no knowledge of its unique customs and tastes. Once you’ve established a budget for your marketing yuan and figured out the differences between Renren and Tencent, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the cultural distinctions that could make or break your interactions with Chinese consumers.
1. DO present e-commerce opportunities.
Increased access to smartphones and social media among the country’s burgeoning middle class means the Chinese are now able to buy products online…and that they’re even more glued to their devices than we are. Pricewaterhousecoopers found that 75% of consumers in China shop online weekly, compared with a global average of 21%.
2. DON’T forget about “Singles’ Day.”
This Chinese shopping holiday was supposedly started by university students celebrating their independence by buying themselves presents on November 11th. While American retailers focus on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Chinese brands know Singles’ Day is their time to cash in, with $20 billion in sales projected for 2016.
3. DO understand the importance of relationships.
Confucius knew his stuff and based on the principles of Confucianism, the Chinese value harmonious relationships. Therefore, they may respond better to marketing messages that place emphasis on family and friendships as opposed to those accentuating individual pride and autonomy.
4. DON’T ignore your new customer feedback.
Chinese consumers rely heavily on product recommendations from online reviews and are very likely to post their own. With over 200 million users, China’s Dianping could give Yelp a run for its money. According to Forbes, about 75% of all online users provide purchase feedback at least once a month, compared to less than 20% in the U.S.
5. DO take advantage of their tastes.
Tmall.com is China’s largest website for authentic branded goods and its shopping patterns indicate that Chinese consumers choose American brands for several reasons including better quality, product safety and lack of domestic availability. In fact, per a report from the Boston Consulting Group, 61% of China’s consumers are willing to pay more for a product made in the U.S. so if you sell it, they will come.
Due to the distinct behaviors of its consumers, entering the Chinese market may at first seem daunting. But by adopting a culturally sensitive approach to marketing, outside brands can capitalize on the opportunity to expand into this lucrative emerging market.
As the Chinese middle and upper classes enjoy increased disposable income, their tastes have grown more expensive. In 2015, luxury good spending in mainland China reached $19.3 billion or about 31% of the global market. But before you rush to get your pricey products listed on Alibaba or Tmall, consider these interesting facts about Chinese buyers willing to shell out more yuan for international indulgences.
1. They’re not just shopping in China.
Many Chinese consumers now buy luxury items in Europe and other parts of Asia, where lower taxes make prices significantly cheaper than in the mainland. In fact, it was estimated that 80% of China’s total luxury spending was made overseas in 2015. Though efforts are being made to slow down the “gray market” that has arisen for international purchases, for now Chinese travelers are as likely to buy expensive items abroad as they are cheap souvenirs.
2. It isn’t about logos.
Chinese consumers have evolved beyond simply loving labels, so brand alone no longer determines a product’s success in this market. A survey conducted by Simon-Kucher & Partners showed that China’s luxury buyers now place the highest value on product quality (74%), style (70%) and comfort (70%) when making fashion purchases, while Bain & Company found that 39% of wealthy Chinese don’t find logos to be a priority. That collective sigh you hear in the distance is from Louis Vuitton’s marketing department.
3. The consumers are younger than you’d think.
The average age of Chinese luxury consumers, at home or abroad, is 33.1 years. And more than 80% of all Chinese luxury consumers are between the ages of 25 and 44. This is a generation of shoppers that has grown up on luxury marketing campaigns and which embraces the concept of “Treat Yo’ Self.” But in China they call it Singles’ Day.
4. The Internet is where you’ll find them.
Chinese consumers are quite likely to research luxury brands on the Internet or apps, and are open to developing a relationship that goes beyond the point of sale with the companies behind them. Albatross Global Solutions found that about 75% of China’s most affluent consumers follow brands online and that almost 90% of them want to be contacted by brands they have purchased. Organizations now take advantage of these stats by allocating about 35% of their marketing budget to digital efforts, and that number is growing.
5. The brand story matters.
According to McKinsey&Company, Chinese consumers are now finding that the allure of luxury products can be driven by a brand’s cultural heritage. For that reason, outside luxury brands have found success in promoting their history and craftsmanship as selling points. But there’s also something to be said for assimilation as one-third of luxury consumers expressed a preference for items that incorporated Chinese imagery or that were designed specifically for China.
Thanks to rising incomes, the availability of products online and more openness towards displaying wealth, Chinese consumers now feel increasingly comfortable investing in luxury items. This presents an incredible opportunity for marketers accustomed to targeting less cost-conscious consumers if they’re willing to take the time to understand the nuances of this growing market.
Let’s be honest, everyone has heard of Facebook… Even my dog knows about Facebook! If you don’t, then you should know that my dog is cooler than you. Today Facebook is the biggest social network in the world and has been around since 2004. That’s a long stinking time! FB grows more each week and there is literally always something new being pushed out into this weird social sphere, and I know it is hard to keep up.
For personal use, it’s a great way to connect with new people, stay in touch with old friends, co-workers and family. But what I prefer to use it for is…BUSINESS. Surprise, Surprise. EVERY BUSINESS and or COMPANY SHOULD HAVE A FACEBOOK PAGE. For starters, it is free exposure for your company but you can also choose to pay to promote it within this giant platform. Potential clients/customers are able to like or rate your page in a way that somewhat resembles a Yelp profile.
It also gives you access to all your analytics so you track every click, like, and other activity on your FB page. Not only have I used FB for heavy-duty businesses but also for SMBs like local restaurants. It doesn’t matter how big or small the business is, if you keep up with the page and put actual effort into it then you will get your brand’s name out there. Nothing ticks me off more than people complaining that their posts or their page doesn’t have enough likes. Well, maybe it’s because you aren’t committed to the page. How can you expect a random person to like a page that has no effort put into it? BE SMART PEOPLE. This is why companies have social media moderators. They have one or two specific people whose job is to make the FB along with all other social pages absolutely amazing and cohesive to direct traffic to each page. You must utilize free social media and anyone who says they don’t have time is a freaking liar. With social media available right on your phone no one should be excused and it only take a few minutes a day.
Now go get your likes people!
When was the last time you got excited about direct mail?
When you think of direct mail you hardly think of something immersive or engrossing, since the experience is most often limited to what you’re seeing in your hand or on a surface in front of you.
However, with a virtual reality (VR) direct mail viewer you can turn every phone into a conversation with your experience right in the middle of it.
So far VR has shown that it can effectively help people visualize the future, spark empathy, grasp more complex concepts, and communicate stories in compelling ways.
For example, VR has the potential to help us become “better people”.
When VR direct mail is a good opportunity
I’m regularly tasked with thinking of new marketing experiments to capture value for a new product or business. Often these experiments look at testing marketing channels like email, search engine and social media to help the buyer along the buyer journey.
Direct mail is rarely one of these channels. However, direct mail with virtual reality capabilities has moved into an experiment worth considering if certain conditions are met:
- You’re a business with a mailing list that is current and targeted.
- You have a high degree of certainty the recipient fits the characteristics of a high probability buyer or influencer like an existing member, employee, donor, etc.
- The expected benefit of the experiment is greater than the cost of running the experiment.
- The expected benefit = increase in a key metric x probability of success.
Expected benefits of VR direct mail
An expected benefit is likely greater in a VR direct mail campaign when aimed further down the funnel like a new purchase, increase size of purchase and/or shortening of the purchase cycle. It could also be targeting referrals or even just retention.
Keep in mind that you’ll likely need to report on what direct mail has long been measured against, like response rates, cost per lead and cost per acquisition, which includes cost per unit plus all the other costs to produce and manage the campaign.
Since VR direct mail is a digital medium, it can provide insights from the analytics that might factor into the expected benefits you seek. Analytics in VR technology is, unsurprisingly, focused primarily on eye-tracking heat maps. An eye heat map data visualization helps to understand where people are most engaged throughout the experience. This data also provides meaningful clues to what viewers might be missing that you originally intended for them to see or spend more time on items you may not deem relevant. It is ideal to do some testing prior to mailing because the data itself can inform you to make better decisions in other marketing efforts.
Some VR campaigns include video so expect standard video analytics to be a part of measuring engagement.
Risks to avoid when using VR Direct Mail
New technology often gets sucked into the trap of coming across as gimmicky if not done correctly. It is wise to fully adapt and take advantage of the strengths of the medium. If your work is not contributing to the overall enhancement of the experience, then you shouldn’t use it.
Avoiding the Gimmicky Trap:
- VR is not about putting products into alluring 3-D spaces but building an engaging experience.
- The idea is not to have someone look at an advertisement for a bit longer than they typically would. The experience should be exploratory. The user should be in control of the experience, not the advertiser.
Suggested campaign types
Keeping the buying process in mind, here are some suggestions on what to consider when creating, not only an exciting experience, but a meaningful expected benefit for your first VR direct mail campaign.
- Interactive Tours — Let your customers choose their own adventure while their data tells you how to plan your roadmap.
- VR Post Cards in Giftshops — Your special exhibits can be brought home to share and cherish as collectible designs.
- Supercharged Showroom — Customers can look under the hood with just a glance and schedule a test drive before the dealer even opens.
- 3D Model Previews — Invite your VIPs to the grand opening and let them pre-order your reserve stock.
- Contextual Surveys — Know what your customers really want so you can offer incentives that truly make an impact.
- Attention Research — Learning what draws your audience’s eyes during a screening let’s you change the story before it ever goes to market.
- Mass Customization — Speak to every fan through custom covers and original content synced to each card.
- Event Updates — If your customers already have a VR Card, keep the conversation going with fresh content and incentives before the big day.
Hands on examples of how VR can win over an audience
Virtual reality can help you communicate “a day in the life” experience in a very effective way. Here are two examples:
- Planned Parenthood created a VR film ‘Across the Line’ to effectively communicate “the experience of verbal harassment the organization’s employees and patients routinely endure on the way to a clinic’s front door.”
- The Golden State Warriors pitched Kevin Durant with a VR tour of the team’s practice facility and new stadium.
Where to go from here
If you are on a tight budget you could look to VR direct mail to deliver a meaningful impact. Consider all campaign types and review the optimal conditions listed above to determine if you’re in a good position to pitch this type of campaign in a future marketing experiment.
Best of luck!
Interested in learning more about virtual reality? Take a look at the VR AR industry from inside.com which recently included this handy summary on the future of VR.
By 2020 there will be around 42 million VR headsets globally and this will revolutionize the business world, from making hardware type televisions obsolete to letting people attend live concerts from their living rooms. – THE DRUM
Mitchell Posada, Founder & Senior Product Consultant of LeanStart.io
Mitchell Posada runs a CMO as A Service consulting firm LeanStart.io focused on scaling tech-enabled businesses. Mitch has spent most of his career launching digital products and helping businesses leverage technology and process innovation to transform brands and increase ROI. Mitch is known for his Product and Growth strategy and execution consulting to dozens of start-ups in mobile, IoT, digital marketplaces, and sports. Mitch is currently a mentor at 2112inc.com, MatterChicago.com, 1871.com, Super G Accelerator, and Xberts.com. Formerly VP of Marketing at PathfinderSoftware.com, a healthcare software development company. Prior experience with large enterprise includes DHL WorldWide, WellsFargo, Best Buy, AdMob/Google, Humana, Nestle, HP, and IDT Telecom. Mitch earned his M.B.A. from the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley.
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EI Industry Insight – The Maturation of Virtual Reality
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With: Alexandra Thielke, Co-Founder of Twentyfive & Thirty
After this year’s installment of Cannes Lions, we had the pleasure to do a 1-on-1 interview with the co-founder of “world-traveling” agency Twentyfive & Thirty, Alexandra Thielke. Haven’t heard of the 2-person creative agency? Check out their feature in AdWeek!
Here’s the scoop:
Was this your first time at Cannes Lions? Would you agree that this festival is the most rewarding annual event creative professionals can attend?
“This was our 3rd time at Cannes Lions. This is definitely an inspiring event to attend for all creative professionals. This event sets the tone of what is trending and what will be the tendencies in the year to come. So many inspiring people are gathered to share and discuss their point of view of the creative industry. We believe that this is one of the most educating events you can possibly attend.”
In 3 words, please describe this year’s festival.
“International. Inspiring. Rosé.”
Major brands like Burger King and John Lewis brought home the Lions Grand Prix. Out of all participating campaigns, which one stood out to you the most?
“The Swedish number – A campaign created for the Swedish Tourist Association, where they made a number anyone in the world can call to ask about Sweden, which will be connected to any random Swede who have signed up to participate and represent their native country.”
“Breast cancer awareness – The Manboobs campaign takes on social media censorship of female breasts by demonstrating how to do a breast self-exam using a man. We just thought it was so well made, clever and hilarious!”
What was the overarching topical theme at this year’s festival? What was the buzz?
“Virtual reality and 360 video was to be found everywhere – It is really taking off! Passion that beats talent, and the collaboration between agencies and clients was a strong topic at this year’s festival as well”
Cannes Lions always attracts a plethora of celebrities. From Will Smith to Martha Stewart. Would you say that any of this year’s keynote speakers managed to capture what branding and creativity means today?
“Absolutely. One of our favorites was Will Smith. Besides his amazing ability to capture his audience and set a relaxed “down to earth” mood, he had some really good points on how to manage a brand and how social media has changed the entire ball game. One of his main points was the change in running a company, and the increased expectancy of full transparency where companies these days are forced to be completely honest and create good wholesome products. If they don’t, their flaws run the risk of being spread across social media in no time.”
What was the most extravagant occurrence during the festival? Any helicopter entrances or outdoor cirque du soleil performances?
“Our most extraordinary experience was delivered by SNASK who made their talk dressed as a rock band. They just look cool and make great work.”
Lastly, what are the thoughts and ideas you will bring back with you to your creative agency?
“We found the subject on collaboration between agency and client very interesting. We had many discussions about this and how relationships need to change to be more honest and close. There were definitely points that support the way we want to – and already work. Especially the thoughts on working “as a team” instead of accepting the traditional client – supplier relationship.”
“The possibilities with Facebook live and 360 video was also very inspiring and is something that we were already looking into before, but now something we will be looking even closer to get involved in. It is clear that advertising is changing from “making ads” to “solving problems”. As creatives, this is something we maintain a strong focus on so it was very inspiring to see and seeing what others are doing gave us tons of inspiration.”
Alexandra Thielke, Co-Founder & Strategic Planner of Twentyfive & Thirty
Twentyfive & Thirty is the world’s smallest global creative agency set out to challenge the way traditional ad agencies work while fulfilling a dream of traveling the world. It is an agency without a fixed address, without fixed work hours but with the flexibility to work whenever they are needed, wherever they want, and with clients from all over the world. This means they often work with their clients without ever meeting them in person.
For those of you that think Pinterest is only for pinning recipes, planning a wedding, or picking out an outfit, you surely are mistaken.
I mean yeah that stuff is enjoyable, even I do that (you should see my puppy board)! But Pinterest is actually a great business tool. Not only does it work extremely well for restaurants and retail stores that want to show off their product and recipes, but for other business endeavors as well. Pinterest is honestly one of my favorite social apps, I follow literally everyone I possibly can and love “exploring” specific things I am searching for. I am so addicted to being an avid “pinner” and I’m proud of it!
Pinterest has so much traffic hitting its servers each day. I know this because half of the people that sit around me on the Metra are surfing on Pinterest, each one searching different boards. It has become one of those apps that people check daily, like they do with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. So considering all this scale why would you not want to contribute to Pinterest?
Let’s be honest, it is really easy to use Pinterest. It’s pretty self-explanatory and you can access it from any smart device. You can measure your pinning success with analytics to see how well you are pinning or posting to boards.
It’s a great way for PR professionals to connect with journalists. If your goal is to build a relationship with them go see what they are pinning to their public boards and use it as it as a conversation starter. You can see what they think is funny, what kind of pets they like and what kinds of food they like. This is something that would come in handy if you were to meet up for lunch.