Every year around this time, brands fire up their contingency plans while customers prepare their bank accounts for the end of the year sale phenomenon also known as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day and everything in between.
Once upon a recent time, shopping preparation would entail mapping out which stores to hit, ensuring you’ve got the comfiest shoes to walk a kilometre from the closest available car park and go hard or go home. However this year in particular, no-thanks, but thanks to a world-altering airborne virus, e-tail is the new retail. Now preparation merely involves four bars of signal and your phone with 100% battery.
THE NEW BUSINESS AS UN-USUAL
The ease of going on a website, locating and buying a specific product is initiating a reality where shopping is only a click, point, tap or swipe away. Not to mention that Influencers and curators are a part of this new virtual reality. Brands know we love a deal when we see one, so by getting Influencers to promote; “DC: SARAH50, only value for 24 hours”, you can bet your bottom dollar that customers are more inclined to swipe up.
Online shopping, it’s just too easy. Whatever the medium, wherever in the world the e-store is located, technology allows consumers to buy the product, at the right price, in a manner they enjoy, in the comfort and safety of their home.
Now, consumers online experiences' are fundamentally different to those during the boomers/dotcom days. e-commerce is no longer only about convenience, choice, price, reviews and ratings. It's becoming about everything else that consumers subconsciously look for in a purchase; the status and a compelling experience.
Consumers embrace everything that enables them to project their style, as seen on Pinterest. They want to display their style and taste through high quality pins from trusted muses. There's a rewarding status boost that comes from discovering, compiling and recommending a sharable, desirable and inspiring product. This new age influential urge means this channel for advertising is only going up.
To really stand out today, it's about providing a uniquely personalised and tailored experience. Consumers are now at the centre and indeed individually contribute to a far richer and more personalised experience, meaning e-tail is increasingly becoming me-tail.
This trend of a personalised and curated consumer experience will continue and it will be the brands that tap into this who will outshine the ones who don’t.
We’re staying inside but we’re escaping online. Australia Post released a new market update stating that e-tail has been booming since late March with an increase of 73% year on year. The financial year saw growth in online purchases of 35.4% (YOY), and it’s all uphill from here.
So, what are people buying? The highest growth categories in Australia include 82% are home and garden, 76% are food and liquor (amen), and 71% are health and beauty. Unlike previous years where aspirational products were put on a pedestal, this year it’s about buying things we need, or evidently think we need.
Consumers are living differently, buying differently and thinking differently. We're all looking at brands and products through a new lens. The virus has evidently reshaped the industry in real-time, rapidly accelerating long term underlying trends in the space of mere weeks. There is indications that the new habits formed now will endure beyond this crisis, permanently shaping how we value, where we shop, and how we live and work. Consumers are shopping consciously, buying local and embracing the ability to shop online.
This year standing out from the crowd will be key to making bank. Consumers are now looking for inspirational, escapist content. They want to see material that will help them cope with their new reality - not give them something unattainable to strive for. The world has seen a decline in Influencers and Advertisements that are overly curated. In a time like this, people are looking at the muses who stay real, genuine and provide a relationship of trust showing humanity through their content.
The brands who nail it this silly season are the ones that prepare in advance, but with nothing but uncertainty, you're forgiven for not quite knowing where to start.
I touched base with our ads division earlier this week to discuss some inside secrets. You’re hearing them here first.
As it turns out, last month they attended a virtual Retail Academy Google event to discuss growing in uncertainty and how to reevaluate digital strategies for this period.
A few things they noticed in Q4 last year:
A lot of advertisers started to capture attention early, building anticipation for what’s going to happen next and get their remarketing audiences ready. Advertisers will start their Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaigns 1-2 weeks early as space is less crowded.
Ad objectives become more expensive as the placements become more crowded. For example, the cost to reach 1,000 people and the cost per purchase will increase as brands fight for ad inventory.
Q4 isn’t a period for testing and trialling new things as the results will differ from Q1-Q3, look at the best campaigns that worked and use them to your advantage.
It's a challenging and uncertain landscape but the brands who accelerate their digital experiences and meet the needs of consumers expectations will thrive in dire straights. Retailers should ensure digital strategies remain agile to meet customers where and when they feel comfortable. All in all, to stay ahead in the rat race, ensure you’re giving people the information they need and the experience they expect.