Raconteur

Future Customer 2020

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R A C O N T E U R . N E T 17 he effects of COVID-19 are being felt across the world. For marketers, everything has changed: every touchpoint, disci- pline, budget and revenue is affected. The retail and consumer landscape is seeing seismic shifts and witnessing a rapid ecommerce acceleration. Rewind to 2019. The Cannes Lions festival stages focused on customers demanding genuine brand purpose, the importance of the brand experi- ence being a human experience and new consumer groups forming as a result of the pressure that both people and the planet are facing. In 2020 these priorities remain, but now brands are faced with an addi- tional layer of complexity as they nav- igate, react and adapt to ecommerce acceleration and an increased con- sumer expectation that brands prop- agate a diverse and inclusive society. The short-term effects of lockdown saw a surge in ecommerce uptake as shoppers tried to avoid leaving home. Insight from ecommerce and data analytics platform Edge by Ascential shows store traffic is dramatically down, overall spending is in decline and online shopping is increasing. Alongside these changes, we are witnessing category shifts, with search terms for COVID-19 essentials winning the top search ranks. In a financial context, the surge in online shopping caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to add £5.3 bil - lion to UK ecommerce sales this year to make a total of £78.9 billion. So how can brands make the accel- eration in ecommerce their success story? There are some fundamental checkpoints, such as brand build- ing with a long-term view, creating humanity and purpose and the abil- ity to be agile. In WARC's recent Lions Live ses- sion, David Tiltman, vice presi- dent of content, offered three clear actions for marketers: transform per- formance marketing and eliminate friction between advertising and purchase; resist the shift to short-ter- mism; and fundamentally reassess the experience you can offer as a brand. The importance of the brand experience is particularly interesting because getting closer to the supply chain will be an integral element of delivering this experience. When Tiffany Lilze, senior ecom- merce supply director, North America, at Procter & Gamble, spoke at Lions Live, she highlighted the importance of using the supply chain as a top-line growth driver, advising marketing and the supply chain need to be hand in hand. "One of the most important things that a marketer can do is drive demand, but if that prod - uct is not available at the right time in the right place to shift to the con- sumer, then we have definitely failed together as a unit," she said. Furthermore, as part of the WARC COVID-19 Series, the advice to brands looking to drive ecommerce revenue is to learn from past recessions and ensure their tech and supply chain are in a place to deliver. We know learning from the past and the appli - cation of this knowledge to current situations is crucial, but we must also factor in the future, and a careful use of both will help brands and retailers ride the waves of this acceleration. In their recent report Future Consumer 2022, trend forecast- ing company WGSN identified two global sentiments – fear and desyn- chronised society – predicting these mindsets are set to impact the future consumer landscape. In response, to continue to remain relevant, new thinking in terms of a brand's over- all online environment will be criti- cal. Already, innovative companies are decluttering the customer experi- ence, investing in new livestream and conversational commerce, and trial- ing new formats such as livestream shopping events to drive sales and social return on investment (ROI). So, while change will continue at pace, what's clear is the winners will be those marketers who adopt a positive mindset, as what we really have is opportunity. Opportunity for brand-building, opportunity to cre - ate first-class consumer experiences and opportunity to increase ROI. The landscape may be radically changed, and still changing, but as marketers we can, and must, embrace this to our advantage. 'The landscape may be radically changed, but we can, and must, embrace this to our advantage' T O P I N I O N Anna Reeves Chief marketing officer Ascential Group, owner of Cannes Lions Anybody on the platform has the opportunity to be seen... It's a more even playing field could even win a very special pair of #MagicBoots," according to the cen- tral campaign page. TikTok's Flint explains how the amplification with advertising works with the brand and creator Black, praising the strength of collaboration. "Nike was able to leverage his large following in a key target demographic to generate huge organic reach right from the start. To maximise reach, Nike ran additional topview-lite and in-feed ads, as part of a wider advertising campaign. On TikTok, #MagicBoots saw more than one bil - lion video views." The success has led Black to travel the world to work with football super- stars Kevin de Bruyne, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo, directing, editing and publishing content. "It just feels like TikTok have nailed it. The trends and the use of audio makes it easier for people to get involved. These are probably the two things that make it so unique," adds Black. But the breakneck speed of TikTok's world domination is not without its challenges, with privacy and national security among the top concerns of some governments as geopolitical manoeuvring attempts to stall its rapid growth. Owned by Chinese multinational ByteDance, TikTok started life as Douyin in 2016, but rapidly became more popular on a global scale after acquiring and merging with lip-sync app Musical.ly in 2018. But as its audience continues to swell, many, such as Donald Trump, are now wor - ried the platform could be amassing data on American citizens to pass to the Chinese government, something ByteDance denies. In August, the US president ordered ByteDance to sell TikTok's US opera- tions before the middle of September or face a nationwide ban, with Microsoft, Twitter and Oracle among the leading contenders to take over the unit. TikTok, which boasts 80 million active users in the United States, is fighting its corner and taking legal action against the Trump administra - tion to challenge the accusations lev- elled at it. Meanwhile, India banned the app in June, citing security and privacy concerns. The unfolding TikTok story is equally entertaining as the con- tent published across its platform. From the economic, geopolitical and everything in-between, it's attracting controversy and interest. Its potential TikTok For Business is supposedly for brands targeting both business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) audiences. "TikTok is where creativity can be unleashed. Modern customers for both want the fundamentally same thing out of brand interactions: entertaining, inspiring or informative experiences improving their lives," says TikTok's Stuart Flint. But catering for both B2B and B2C campaigns has been a struggle for most social media platforms and TikTok isn't immune. Some specialists aren't convinced the platform is right for B2B brands or campaigns just yet. "If B2B brands need to be on TikTok, then it should be for recruitment purposes showcasing the brand and have people apply," advises Timothy Armoo, chief executive at influencer marketing agency Fanbytes. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), established in 1904, successfully worked with two creators with the support of Fanbytes to produce content for TikTok and Snapchat to reach new recruits, which was essentially a B2C play for a B2B organisation. "We worked with two influencers [James Owen and Sherice Banton] who visited accountancy firms, Flinder and Peter Jarman who had the right following, not just a sizeable following. The content showed off ACCA and student accountants redefining the profession, abolishing the stereotype that accountants are boring by creating organic TikToks," explains Karen Smith, head of UK marketing, at ACCA. The activity generated 890,800 views, 182,900 likes, 1,069 comments and an average engagement on TikTok of 13.6 per cent, according to the ACCA. "There was a lot of research and a lot of dialogue to ensure there wasn't anything that would jar with our brand and placing trust in the influencers we'd chosen, given the live aspect of the content created," Smith adds. TikTok marketing for B2B new owners may be able to sidestep the political issues currently plaguing it, in addition to the challenges of pri- vacy, spam and inappropriate content that will inevitably follow. Like other platforms, transparency and trust will be critical to its future success. With competition from Instagram's newly launched Reels product, and more copycats expected to follow, President Trump creating an account on competitor Triller, and a dozen other similar platforms wanting to replicate TikTok's success, how solid is its future? There is a potentially complex road ahead. But achieving huge Western adoption where one- stop Chinese technology powerhouse WeChat failed, it is tempting to sur - mise more success awaits. ByteDance itself reportedly estimates annual rev- enues will surge to $6 billion by the end of 2021, up from $1 billion this year. With its growth, investment, reach, virality and ability to evolve quickly, it's impressive. Announcements such as its newly launched Creator Funds aren't hurting either, whereby TikTok is investing billions in supporting "creators of all sizes and backgrounds through earnings that reward the passion and dedication they put into inspiring, uplifting and entertaining the TikTok community". TikTokers are unapologetically loyal and they're the audience defin - ing its future. What's apparent is the interest brands have in TikTok mar- keting, the TikTok creator ecosys- tem and its audience. These don't appear to be going anywhere else any time soon. Qustodio 2020 SOCIAL SURGE Percentage of UK children using social media before and during the pandemic 18% 60% 20% 49% 17% 40% 2% 23% February 2020 April 2020 TikTok Instagram Snapchat Houseparty XanderSt/Shutterstock

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