Back-to-School Ads Get A-

This Back-to-School (BTS) year is unlike any other and so is its advertising. According to research, BTS advertising so far in July is down almost 50% vs. year-ago period as many retail marketers pull back on spending and families remain unsure of whether kids will return to in-person classes this Fall.

But there’s a silver lining to this. Despite BTS advertising budgets being down, the quality of the work that does exist – which is usually pretty cliché filled with sunny and happy kids in yellow buses – is up.

From JansPort backpacks #LightentheLoad campaign tackling mental health in today’s volatile and uncertain environment through candid teen interviews to Old Navy’s campaign starring five activists (reflecting today’s civil rights movements and concerns) to the Tik-Tok influenced campaigns by Hollister and American Eagle, the work is more relevant and grounded as it leans into the realities of the pandemic head on.

Although Hollister’s creative isn’t necessarily my favorite, their light-hearted “Jeanology” campaign which riffs on the idea of conducting science experiments with Bill Nye has a lot going for it. As part of the campaign, Hollister entered a long-term partnership with the D’Amelios, who rank among the most popular content creators on TikTok. The tie-up extends beyond social media content, as the D’Amelios’ hand-selected denim picks will receive a special tag in stores and online starting today.

TikTok also continues to have a strong hold on the attention of Gen Z: The percentage of U.S. consumers ages 13 to 35 who use it rose to 27% in April from 19% in January, according to Civic Science data, as the service saw a surge in activity as a result of the coronavirus.

Why it’s hot: It’s interesting to see how brands are adapting to address the moment – not just from a messaging but production standpoint. Also, for Hollister in particular, it’s cool to see that the campaign extends beyond the video app to cover all of the brand’s social media channels, as well as in-store activations. A true URL + IRL campaign.

The New AI That Had Everyone Talking This Week

If you popped into Twitter this week you probably came across GPT-3. It was created by research lab OpenAI, and is a new AI language model that can do some truly incredible things, from writing poetry to composing business memos to generating functioning code.

The company launched the service in beta last month and has gradually widened access.

The AI has basically been “trained” on an archive of the internet called the Common Crawl, which contains nearly one trillion words of data. That’s why it can demonstrate so many different capabilities like creating a website similar to Google to finishing a VC’s blog post.

Super interesting but still has some bugs to work out too.

Why it’s hot: It’s a huge leap forward in terms to AI, which can enable a lot of different applications. That said, it still has some kinks to work out but we can only imagine what something like GBT-4 will be like. If you think about it, the first iPhone has come a looooooong way and it’ll be interesting to see where this AI goes in the future.

Balloon-Powered Internet from Google

Google is now providing internet in some parts of Kenya through balloons like this one.Source: CNN

Covering more than 50,000 sq.km with a fleet of 35 base stations, Google’s Loon Project and Telkom Kenya are bringing balloon-powered mobile internet service to the country. The first balloon-powered internet launch in Africa and the first non-emergency commercial deployment in the world – the service will reach underserved and unserved people in remote regions.

The Loon service will work by beaming Internet connectivity from ground stations to balloons 20 km overhead. The balloons (floating base stations) are linked to the ground stations that have been connected to Telkom’s network. These ground stations utilise millimeter wave spectrum to send connectivity from the ground to the balloons overhead.

From there, a signal can be sent across multiple balloons, creating a network of floating base stations that will serve a wide coverage area, delivering connectivity directly to a user’s LTE-enabled device, below.
Source: IT News Africa

 

In an effort to support the Kenyan Government’s efforts to manage the current crisis, both companies at break-neck speed to ensure enhanced and alternative communication options.

The balloons are launched from locations in the United States and are being navigated to Kenya using wind currents. According to Project Loon, more balloons will be released as more experience in flying over Kenya is gained.
Source: CNN

Why it’s hot:  If this works sustainably, it opens possibilities for other remote regions across the globe.

Experts in sitting meets expertise in gaming.

Herman Miller collaborated with Logitech to create the high end gaming chair, made to make you play better.

Herman Miller, long time furniture maker and creator of the famed, Aeron Chair, Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman brings sitting to the next level with the G Embody Gaming Chair. Insert ooos and aahhhs here.

This super sleek chair comes at NBD 1500 dollar price tag.

Does it make sense for them?

Yes, they catered to the rebels of silicon valley with their Aeron Chair that “..was a throne perfectly tailored to Silicone Valley’s Vanities“. A rebellious lean to the chair that would allow for perfect power yielding in meetings and frustration of the dot com boom.

More than that, they are experts in sitting. For E Sports, that is basically what you are doing, physically at least.

Targeting the competition. 

What you get is a whole different experience than what gamers are usually sitting in, which are race car chairs. That add, what Fast Company calls, “tacky” I would say, quirky.

Because race car chairs were designed for racing cars, they hug you while you are in motion. As Herman Miller figured out, gamers aren’t moving, and the way they sit and think about their set up is very different.

Its a sport, and Herman is treating it like that.

Gamers think about their mice, keyboard and monitor as performance gear, Miller extends that to the chair as well.

Their sitting stance –

  • Gamers lean forward almost in an attack stance of their computer.
  • Leading forward means they loose the support of the chairs back.
  • At times they sit on their feet to get leverage.
  • Sweating, under lights or just because they’re sitting for 10-12 hours, adrenaline.

G Embody answer to the sitting stance –

  • Lean in non resistance. For quick maneuvering and not worrying about fighting with the char
  • Copper infused cooling foam
  • “Pixelated support” 100 mattress like coils to the seat bottom. (For distribution of weight across the seat. Miller also says it encourages blood-flow.
    • Pixels near sit bones are harder, for support, while towards your legs are softer not to compress arteries.

Why it’s hot:

Collaboration to target a new customer. New entrant into a new category.

It also makes me wonder how far can this go. Gloves for non resistant mouse clicking?

A new type mouse and glove set that will respond quicker than a click.

Boom Time For Death Planning

The New York Times reports that since COVID-19 struck there has been significant growth in the market for products and services that help people manage their own end of days–especially for digital startups targeting millennials.

Companies like Cake and Lantern have found increased online traffic as they help young people plan for death (e.g. write obituaries, wills) and grieve online for those who have passed.

Why it’s hot: 

These apps may provide a window into the role that technology will play in the funeral and estate planning industries of the future.

Zoom Goes from Software to Hardware

Designed specifically for Zoom, Zoom for Home – DTEN ME is a 27″ display touch-screen is meant to help those without smartphones or laptops to work from home. The display includes 3 wide-angle cameras and an 8 noise-reducing microphone array and is pre-loaded with Zoom. The touch screen will allow users to use things like whiteboard applications in Zoom.

The stand-alone device, essentially a large computer-sized tablet, will work with an existing Zoom account and provide access to standard Zoom features. Users will be able to start meetings, make calls and take advantage of interactive annotations. The device will also allow users to sync their calendars, meeting settings and phones.

Zoom’s new device is available for pre-order now, and the company expects to start shipping it in August.  It’s Zoom’s first dive into hardware and the company has told TechCrunch that it will launch new products with more partners in the future.

Why it’s hot: Zoom’s exponential growth due to the onset of COVID-19 primes the company for expansion, but as we’ve seen with Portal TV, Facebook’s video chat camera accessory for your TV, breaking into hardware is not easy.

Source: CNBC

Relaunching the Ford Bronco after 25 years

After 25 years the Ford Bronco is back for 2021. The model was discontinued in 1996 after the market shifted, to make room for a new breed of over-sized family SUVs that allowed suburbanites to feel like they weren’t over the hill. No, it was not discontinued because of OJ, but it’s a common assumption.

They had a lot to cover to make this relaunch a success.

  1. Connecting the new model to its storied history as “America’s first SUV” and educating the audience about that history? Check.
  2. Authentically tapping into the spirit of adventure and escapism that defines the category? Check.
  3. Triggering the public’s wanderlust after being cooped up for months by Covid? Check
  4. Embodying the power and rugged emotionality of wild horses and the Great American West? Check.
  5. Shrugging off Ford’s weak “Ford-Focus” image. Check.

The copywriters had a field day in the ads, with gems like:

  1. Literally calling the vehicle a “horse”.
  2. “You need something that can look adventure in the eye, and give it a firm handshake.”
  3. You need something that’s not happy until it takes you through whatever creek or snow or mud or mountain trail or dune or logging road or landmark with death in its name. You need a Bronco.”
  4. “Built as wild as what you’re looking for.”

To Dos:

Launch it like it’s the blockbuster event of the summer

OPENING LINE: “There’s still some wild out there…”

Explain why it’s the antidote to the disappointment of the American mythology’s unfulfilled promise of a life of adventure

OPENING LINE: “This country has a strange relationship with the wild. As much as we talk about it, and paint paintings of it, and sing songs about how we’re destined to be it, we seem to spend every waking hour in places that keep us away from it… so to get back to the wild, we need something built for it.”

Tap into our primal instincts of auditory association

Show audiences the R&D

Show off your history / remind people you’re a legend

Use the old to sell the new

 

 

 

 

 

Make it a lifestyle

Get the nerds to geek out on features

 

Ford Press Release:

“Academy Award-winning director and acclaimed cinematographer, photographer and professional climber, Jimmy Chin, collaborated with Disney CreativeWorks, Disney’s award-winning creative agency, to co-create network reveal stories with the Ford team.”

From Tech Crunch:

The launch of the Bronco looks to be a masterclass in nostalgia. For the last few weeks, Ford has been feeding journalists with media assets — pictures, staged interviews and upcoming advertisements. I’ve yet to see the full vehicle because in the end, Ford is not relying on the Bronco itself to drive sales, but rather, is digging deep into the power of nostalgia to move the Bronco off lots.

Recalling the past can help companies develop a unified theme around a product or service. In this case with the Bronco, only recalling part of the past helps companies dial in messaging. With Ford, the company wants consumers in agreement: This is a tough vehicle and it’s always been a tough vehicle. Forget about OJ, these adverts say. Instead, look at how the Bronco was used by two burly men bounding over the rolling hills of a cattle ranch. Ford is digging deep into American lore to show the Bronco as a rugged conqueror of the frontier instead of a conqueror of parking lot flowerbeds.

Why it’s hot:

They treated the relaunch like a summer blockbuster, teasing it for weeks.

They let viewers in on the R & D process and let the car nerds talk it up.

They connected to powerful auditory sensations in ads.

They showed us all the places we wish we could go, tapping into our pent-up covid wander lust.

They re-worked their famous tagline just for this: From Built Ford Tough to BUILT WILD

The Ford logo is nowhere to be found, even on the vehicle itself. This is all about the BRONCO franchise.

They built an affinity community around it with tons of features to make it a lifestyle.

Source: Twitter, Ford, Tech Crunch

 

Johnnie Walker Paper?

Diageo will start releasing its Johnnie Walker whiskey in a paper bottle in early 2021. Nothing about the caramel-colored liquor will change, but the environmental impact will be significantly lessened.

Whereas the current bottle is made of translucent glass and plastic, the new one is made from sustainably sourced, food-safe wood pulp. It’s finished in a moody and alluring opaque matte black, with the name in contrasting white type. It’s also 100% plastic-free and completely recyclable, according to the company. Yes, glass is recyclable, too, but it tends to have a bigger environmental footprint because it’s heaver it ship, which adds to its carbon footprint. And even though the original glass bottle doesn’t have much plastic, any decrease is a good thing—91% of the 300 million tons of plastic we produce a year isn’t recycled at all, according to the NRDC.

Diageo’s new bottle is a bigger deal than just a change in one whiskey’s package design. Through it’s new sustainable packaging R&D company, it’s creating a consortium with major brands, and Unilever and Pepsi have already signed on to roll out paper bottles in 2021.

Diageo hasn’t disclosed whether it will roll out paper bottles to its other spirits, but if packaging design continues in this direction, it could very well be time to pour one out for plastic.

Why it’s Hot:

Innovation like this could potentially change the future of packaging (and it’s a much-needed change).

Much like Allbirds has done for sustainable shoe manufacturing, Diageo could become the gold star for other spirits manufacturers. Diageo positioning itself as a leader for eco-friendly packaging within the spirits space could potentially help them attract new customers and retain existing ones.

Source

Will “conscious traveling” become more prevalent post 2020?

The Year of Return: 2019, was a tourism campaign to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first slave ship landing in America. It was an instance of “roots tourism”, which appeals to travelers to visit a destination on the basis of their ancestry.

Beyond the education and personal transformation that many travelers gain from this type of tourism, could it also be an opportunity for racial reconciliation?

Travelers felt that the trip helped them to conceptualize slavery differently, and this led them to a deeper understanding of race relations in the United States. For example, one traveller said that prior to visiting Ghana, they felt a “certain anger towards white people”. But visiting Ghana and specifically the Cape Coast dungeon exposed them to learning more about all of the actors in slavery – (white) Europeans and (black) Africans.

Travel and tourism are often linked to expanding our view of the world but it hasn’t been linked to social justice much until now. It’ll be interesting to see if and how the travel industry evolves post-pandemic, post-recession, post-social injustice protests to offer more ways for people to ‘travel with purpose’ – whether that means new destinations that can help us expand our mind not just our passport stamp collection, new experiences that allow us to go deeper and travel more meaningfully or even new ways to travel that can help us protect the planet (more sustainable/eco-friendly).

Source: Quartz Africa, Suitcase Magazine

 

Is TikTok’s future in danger? Has Instagram found a new opportunity for growth?

42% of TikTok’s in-app revenue and advertisement purchases in total come from the US.

43% of active users on TikTok are based in India.

The Indian government called these apps “prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, defense of India, security of state and public order”

TikTok has said previously that it operates separately from it’s parent company. It says its data centers are located entirely outside of China, and that none of that data is subject to Chinese law. US user data is stored in the United States, with a backup in Singapore, according to TikTok. A spokesperson for the company told CNN Business in May that it thinks the national security concerns are “unfounded.”

Instagram said on Wednesday it is officially rolling out Reels — a feature that allows users to create short-form videos (up to 15 seconds long) set to music or other audio — to a “broad” user base in India. The Facebook -owned service first began testing Reels, which has been widely referred as “TikTok clone”, in select markets late last year.

Reels videos will appear on Instagram’s Explore tab, enabling users to reach a broader audience than their own following base. Users can also share Reels as “Stories”, though, in that case the video will not appear in Explore tab and will disappear after 24 hours.

So a broad test of Reels, which has also rolled out Brazil, France, and Germany, in India was only natural, Mohan said, dismissing the characterisation that the new feature’s availability now had anything to do with a recent ban of TikTok in India.

Why it’s hot: Will Instagram be able to entice TikTok’s audience the way it was able to steal Snapchat’s audience a few years ago when it replicated Snapchat’s features into its app?

Sources: one, two

Genius Introduces Live Interactive Concerts

Genius Live is a new experience platform by Genius.com that aims to fill the current void in live concerts due to COVID-19. Their first event will feature a headlining performance by Wiz Khalifa, who is donating all proceeds to the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP).

Genius is calling the event an “interactive benefit concert” because there are actions attendees can take throughout–some free and some for purchase–that will affect the show in real-time. After signing up for free, fans can vote on the setlist (free), join a private watch party ($10), ask for a shoutout ($100), and ask a question ($200). Fans can also chat with each other throughout the experience.

The event will be streaming on the Genius Live platform, as well as simulcast on YouTube Live, Instagram Live, Facebook Live, and Twitch. While this is the only event Genius has announced so far, they plan to expand the program with more artists over the next few months.

Why It’s Hot

While many others have been experimenting with how to take in person experiences online at this time, the interactive nature of this event sets it apart from other livestream concerts, and gives the audience new ways to interact with their favorite artists that a large stadium event would not allow.

Source

Columbia University researchers know why you chose that playlist

A new study out of Columbia Business School and Bar-Ilan University in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that you prefer the music of artists with personalities similar to your own. In other words, you like yourself.

Researchers studied the public personas of the most famous 50 musicians in the Western world, including Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Whitney Houston, The Rolling Stones, Beyoncé, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5, Taylor Swift, and Ozzy Osbourne. In two studies of over 80,000 participants, they found that the personalities of the musicians correlate with those of their fans. A third study of 4,995 participants showed that fans’ personalities predict their musical preferences as much as other strong predictors like gender, age, and features of the music.

Music shapes cultural interactions between individuals and groups, as well as influence listeners’ thoughts and feelings, so researchers sought out to understand the mechanisms of these interactions.

“The findings can pave the way for new approaches for record companies or music management to target and build audiences,” noted coauthor Sandra Matz, an associate professor of business at Columbia Business School.

Why it’s hot: As marketers, the findings of this study might not come as a surprise to us but is potentially a large driving insight when seeking to understand certain audiences mindsets, cultural influences, and motivators.

Source: FastCo

What is in a name?

The first step to know anything, is know the name of it.

What is in a name? Why does Destiny’s Child command you to say it?

Names are an indicator of value.

When someone knows your name, you probably know them. If you go to a store enough and they know your name, and others can imply you’re probably there all the time, this translates into better interactions because you are then valued.

Pronunciations are an indicator of knowledge.

There are approximately 1001 ways to butcher a name, and most of us have heard ours sliced and diced in a few ways. If not your first name, then probably your last. I know my own knife is pretty sharp at times. Albeit, a forgivable mistake, but when someone gets it right, doesn’t it feel like they get you a little bit better? You’re astounded, taken back a little, you probably think, How did they know that? 

The difference between knowing a fashion brand like Vetments by name and knowing it’s pronounced – (Vet-Mo). Knowing Louis Vuitton and knowing it’s pronounced (Loo-wie V-wo-ee-to). You become closer to the brand.

Ignorance is not bliss.

On the other hand when someone does get it wrong, depending on the person, it can spark quite negative emotions and can be quite triggering for some. Henrich Heins – a German poet in his 1839 autobiography goes in depth about his name and all of the emotions he felt at one point or another. He says, “…there is something unpleasant in having one ‘ s name mispronounced . Some people are made very angry by it.” (Him being one of them but don’t worry in his older age he came to terms with it.)

Where would this value matter most?

Places like job interviews where you need to show your skills or that you’d be a fit employer or employee. You are showing off you value the person by knowing their name, knowledgeable by pronouncing the name correctly and bonus points of memorable if they have a difficult name. If someone knows how to say your name, you can skip the apologies, awkward acceptances, or glazing over the you-already-told-them-how-to-say-your-name-but-they-still-get-it-wrong-after-anger and get to showcasing all your skills.

LinkedIn Pronunciations

LinkedIn has had for a long time the option to phonetically enter your name in so people would know how to say it. They will now be rolling out a new feature where you can upload a 10 second audio clip of you saying your name.

There are a plethora of ways that using someones name can enhance conversation. It’s direct and it’s personal, it’s not Hey! it’s Hey Chantelle! You are engaging them to speak, you are showing them you value them, and know them. And you are nominating them to engage with you, in a personal and direct way, vs the Hey which is impersonal. (Social Science & Conversation Analysis by Harvey Sacks) We see this in email marketing as well, seeing an email addressed to you is more attractive than one that doesn’t include it.

Source: The Verge

Why it’s hot:

A place for personalization that enable better and more valuable social interactions.

What if

When you placed an order to a store, and you actually got in the store they knew how to pronounce your name when you got there.

What if this was a security measure? To access an account you have to pronounce the name.

What if you pronounced your name when you call a customer service number, and they answered with the correct pronunciation of your name?

The Face Mask of The Future

face.jpg

Shipping in Japan in September, the C-Face mask will join the long list of the internet of things gadgets to hit the market. Created in response to consumer’s COVID concerns, the mask offers protection and convenience at the same time. Linked to the wearers’ smartphone, the plastic C-Face allows users to record conversations, amplify their voice, make calls, transcribe speech into texts and translate Japanese speech into 8 different languages.

Source: DesignBoom

Why it’s hot: Even though there are more IoT devices out there than we know what to do with, the C-mask solves an immediate real-life challenge – being heard through our masks and dealing with a no-touch world.

The Path to Enduring Loyalty

Stitch Fix Is Attracting Loyal Customers Without a Loyalty Program

As their customer base has grown in recent years, so too has the revenue they generate from each active customer. Even amidst the pain the apparel industry has been experiencing, over the last few months of the coronavirus pandemic, Stitch Fix has managed to weather the storm with only a slight revenue decline – mostly due to the decision to close warehouses for a period.

WHY IT’S HOT:  In a world where “loyalty” tends to cost businesses and marketers money, in the form of deals and discounts, Stitch Fix is a testament to the the power of data to drive true personalization across the customer experience.

From The Motley Fool:

A personal stylist armed with a powerful data-driven selection algorithm creates a great customer experience.

 

In the highly competitive clothing industry, loyal customers are worth their weight in gold. Stores go to great lengths to attract repeat customers with programs that provide rewards, discounts, or exclusive offers for loyal members. But even with these programs, customers are hard to keep. A 2019 survey by Criteo found that 72% of apparel shoppers were open to considering other brands, which is why what Stitch Fix (NASDAQ:SFIX) has done to create loyal clients without a loyalty program is so special.

Let’s look at this personalized online clothing retailer’s loyal customers, how data science is helping build loyalty into the process, and what management is doing to further capitalize on the company’s momentum.

Loyal customers spend more

Clothing stores have seen a significant drop in spending in the past few months, but Stitch Fix’s most recent quarterly revenue only declined by 9% year over year. Impressively, this decline was not due to a drop in demand, but because the company chose to close its warehouses for part of the quarter as it put safety measures in place for its staff. This strong result against a backdrop of abysmal retail clothing spending was powered in part by the company’s auto-ship customers.

In the most recent earnings call, CEO Katrina Lake indicated that customers who sign up to receive “Fixes” (shipments of clothes) automatically and on a regular basis “achieved the strongest levels of ownership retention in the last three years.” She added that “this large contingent of loyal and highly engaged clients” are “very valuable.” Having a stable base of repeat clients helps the company better predict demand trends, shape inventory purchases, and forecast appropriate staffing levels.

Additional benefits from Stitch Fix’s loyal customers show up in the revenue-per-active-client metric. At the end of the day, consumers vote with their wallets. And impressively, this number has increased for the last eight quarters in a row. It’s clear Stitch Fix clients love the service as they are willing to spend more over time.

Possibly the biggest reason clients are spending more is that they are better matched with items they love.

Data science helps improve the customer experience

Making great clothing selections is key to the client experience for Stitch Fix. The job of keeping this recommendation engine humming and improving it over time is the company’s data scientist team. This group is over 100 strong and many of its members have Ph.D.s in data science or related fields. The team received a patent on its Smart Fix Algorithm and has other patents pending. You can see the amazing detail that goes into this process on the Algorithms Tour section of the Stitch Fix website.

This algorithm is also driving selections for the direct buy offering, which allows clients to purchase clothing without the commitment of the five-item fix. This new service is taking off and its low return rates show that clients love it. Lake shared that “people keeping things that they love is ultimately like the true Northstar of our business and that’s really where we’re orienting a lot of our efforts again.” One of these new efforts is focused on pushing the envelope of how stylists engage with clients.

Doubling down on personalized service

On the last earnings call, Stitch Fix President Elizabeth Spaulding discussed a pilot program that “provide[s] clients with increased stylist engagement and the opportunity to select items in their fixes.” This program, currently being tested in the U.S. and the U.K., connects the client on a video call with a stylist while their fix is being created. This allows the client direct input into their selections and enables the stylist to become better acquainted with the client’s clothing choices.

This innovative approach plays to the company’s strengths and could further build its loyal client following. Spaulding indicated that more would be shared in upcoming calls, but said that “We believe this enhanced styling experience will appeal to an even broader set of clients as consumers seek high-touch engagement while not going into stores.”

Smell Like Space

Want to experience space but don’t have the money? Eau de Space brings the experience straight to your nose. A new Kickstarter campaign lets you purchase a bottle for $29, and they’ll match your purchase with a donation to a local STEM program.

The fragrance is inspired by a scent developed by NASA decades ago to help acclimate astronauts as part of their space training.

The space agency had contracted specialists to create the “smell of space” to acclimate astronauts as part of their training and eliminate any environmental surprises prior to lift off.

 

Described by astronauts as a mix of gunpowder, seared steak, raspberries and rum, “space smell” is the latest attempt to capture the smells of places. Other attempts include the New York City candle (hopefully in winter, not summer) or Tom Dixon candles with a scent to evoke “historical memories of British life.”

Why it’s hot:  Smell is the most sensitive of the senses, 75% of emotions are triggered by smell – smell is the last frontier.

Walmart poised to capture the summer movie market?

As traditional movie theaters struggle to attract movie-goers during the pandemic, the confined-space nature of their offering has opened up opportunity for other players. Perhaps one in particular that happens to have a huge amount of real estate for parking cars and for allowing customers to sit back and watch a film from the comfort (and relative safety) of their vehicle? Enter: Walmart.

Walmart has had success being more customer focused with their shop online and pick up stations. This new foray into theaters feels like an extension of that customer-centric premise.

Walmart is smart to move fast to assess how the brand can fulfill consumer desires in light of current events with resources they mostly already have on hand. This agility is what will help Walmart capitalize on movie-goers while theater heavy hitters are sitting ducks.

It’s also a lead-gen play. To discover info and movie times, you need to sign up for their newsletter.

From The Verge:

Walmart is converting some of its parking lots into drive-in theaters for the summer as the movie industry struggles amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The retail behemoth is converting 160 of its parking lots across the US into drive-ins. These theaters will open in early August and remain open through October. The Walmart Drive-In will feature movies programmed by Tribeca Enterprises, the company behind the Tribeca Film Festival, which recently launched a summer movie drive-in series bringing films, music, and sporting events to as many US drive-ins as possible.

Walmart has not disclosed whether attendees will have to pay a price of admission. Though, ahead of each drive-in screening, Walmart says it will sell concessions for moviegoers, which they can order online for curbside pick-up ahead of the film screening. Theaters tend to make a good chunk of their profits on concessions, so Walmart could follow in the industry’s lead.

Why it’s hot:

1. This is a great example of using surplus resources to fill a market gap. The heavy investment stuff is already in place. Walmart needs to invest in some screens, staff, etc, but that overhead is minimal.

2. Though it’s only temporary, the experience created should endear people to the brand, as well as boost revenues from concessions sales.

Source: The Verge

Etsy’s New AR Tool Makes It Easier to Shop for Art From Home

Etsy introduced a new augmented reality tool aimed at visualizing wall art in your space before you purchase. The functionality is built within the Etsy ios app, and at launch works for all prints, photographs, and portraits.

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

The feature works by moving your phone or tablet around your space, and tapping to place on the wall. In cases where different sizes are available, simply zooming in or out will showcase the various options and help you determine which dimensions fit best.

Etsy is using the launch as a beta test to gather feedback before rolling out to other product categories.

Why It’s Hot

At a time when people are online shopping for their home, from their home more than ever, this tool helps make the process easier and more personalized. As a marketplace that supports independent artists, Etsy is providing a significant advantage by helping bring their art to life and allowing potential buyers to experience how the art fits within their existing aesthetic.

Source

A Revamped Online Shopping Experience- Yeezy Supply

Returns are painful. 

I’ve recently been thinking about returns and the increase of shopping online due to retail locations not being readily available. Returns are pretty painful in store but online, they are even more so. Not only because they are not immediate but you have more to keep up with. No surprise but people return more when shopping online than in-store.

Because online experiences are lacking. 

Long have we searched for a ways to combat returns from online sales. (A link to Ben’s previous return post here.) There is video content of the model in the clothing items, reviews from fellow shoppers, Instagram influencers, and content like YouTube Try-On Hauls.

These additives have not abolished the need to get just a little bit closer to seeing, feeling and trying the clothes on in person, albeit retailers/brands have inched closer with those additions. Consumers long for an in-store experience with and online stock room.

We turn to enhance the online experience. 

Carlings “Neo-Ex” digital clothing collection – Clothes that are for the sole purpose of buying and photo shopping on your body in photos. This focuses on the need to buy just for a photo, to break away from the norm.

Snapchat AR – Ability to use the filters and to impose products on your body before you buy. (A post about Adidas/Snapchat collab by Lisa here.) This focuses on the try-before-you-buy and promotional aspect of the internet.

Everywhere but their own sites.

Every online buying experience is the same, looking at clothes on a mostly static model, and scrolling through pages of poses. Enter Yeezy Supply website. A different way to shop, a video-game-esque way to buy your ‘elevated basics’.

Choose a model. These aren’t just your regular models. They have a story, and have done something to better their community. They are nurses, firefighters, and public school teachers. Along with different body shapes that you can then choose.

This unto its own I think speaks to the introspection that I’ve been seeing more and more. These people aren’t a deemed extravagant ideal, they are beautiful for substantive and meaningful reasons. Essential heroes that we can respect because of their story and we can connect to physically. In this video game we are them, we aren’t a cartoon or a model.

Dress yourself, I mean the model. The clothes scroll through your 3D model and you choose what you want to see them in. After a choice is made, your model vanishes out of frame in a transport-like fashion, then walks back into frame in the choice you have made.

Ability to mix and match clothes that you would wear or pair on your own. There is control here, no stylist needed to bring about the ideal pairing. You are your own stylist, as you are one in your own room.

Information can be gathered on the product by hovering and choosing the ‘i’ icon.

This answers a few concerns and closes the gap on seeing a more realistic view of product but also simultaneously creating a memorable online experience with a story that melds into your own.

Is this realistic for everyone?

This is very expensive to do. The old layout works because its available and usable for everyone in almost every browser. The ability to handle traffic and show the product is easier on this type of model.  What is still unclear is how the Yeezy Supply site will handle users scrolling through and what check out will look like, and how fast users will be able to adapt to this different layout.

Why it’s hot:

Bringing human to the shopping experience.

Connecting through a story, with a body that may not be a size 00.

Better visualization of product. A ‘3D’ realistic view of clothes on a body similar to yours.

And because it is a ‘3D’ view, it changes an experience that may last but also aids in a business problem, like returns. You’re able to visualize and see a article of clothing.

Source: FastCompany