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
TikTok is looking to expand into more live broadcasts and educational content as the social video app diversifies away from the dance and music videos that have fueled its rapid growth in the past two years.
According to Tiki’s Tok, people are spending more time watching videos on the app during the pandemic, while creators are broadening the range of content they share to include sports, gaming, cooking, fashion and beauty videos.
Diversifying its content slate could help TikTok extend its audience beyond the 16-to-24 demographic that makes up 43% of its user base and appeal to brands that want to reach consumers with greater spending power. Live video has certain advantages in creating a sense of immediacy among viewers, while educational content can help to cultivate the types of enthusiasts that are important for niche marketing. Both are areas that have experienced a sharp uptick in interest due to the coronavirus pandemic, as people spend more time on social media to stay entertained and informed while outdoor activities are restricted.
While TikTok could be gunning for more older users over the long term, its predominantly young core users are a large draw for advertisers that struggle to reach those groups elsewhere. TikTok’s expanded range of programming may become a bigger threat to rivals like YouTube and Instagram that also are dominant among younger audiences. U.S. children ages 4 to 15 spend an average of 82 minutes a day on TikTok — twice as much as last year — compared with 86 minutes for YouTube and 50 minutes for Instagram, per a recent study by digital safety app maker Qustodio.
Why it’s hot: It’ll be interesting to see if Tik-Tok can expand to attract older audiences while keeping its cool factor.
Google released a new tool called Action Blocks for people with cognitive and motion disabilities. The system allows users and their caregivers to add Assistant commands to the home screen of Android phones and tablets. Each command is represented by a custom image and it can be controlled with just one tap. For instance, when a user taps an Action Block icon of a cab, the system might order a rideshare.
Also worth mentioning that Google has also improved its Maps apps to show if businesses or public venues have accessible entrance. When enabling this feature, you can see a wheelchair icon next to the location.
Why it’s hot: Embracing the diversity trend goes beyond race and gender. With something like 630 million people having some form of cognitive disability, this is not a niche group and it’s great that Google is providing services that ‘level the playing field’ for them.
The longer this public health crisis lasts, the more we grieve. We’re grieving for the fact the world won’t be the same anymore, we’re grieving for a lack of safety and connection but, on a personal level, we’re grieving for all the personal milestones we’re having to cancel and/or postpone. How many graduations, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and even funerals, are passing by without being properly acknowledged/celebrated?
As a way to provide some cheer and support during these time, as well as some good will with new clients, some brands and celebrities are trying to offer ways to help them celebrate these milestones.
Anheiser-Busch’s Natural Light is throwing a virtual graduation ceremony on their Facebook page in May, hosted by Marc Cuban. John Krasinsky hosted a virtual senior prom last week with some very famous guests like Billie Eilish.
Why it’s hot: As more personal milestones get canceled and pass by without closure and proper celebrations and ‘temporary behaviors’ like virtual celebrations become the new normal, there’s opportunity for brands to create a more personal connection with their audience and provide some much needed cheer and hope in difficult times.
And in times when people are adjusting their spend and reconsidering purchases, providing a meaningful experience for consumers in a difficult time can help build goodwill with their audience in the future. And it’s also a unique way to respond to this crisis given every other brand seems to be responding the exact same way.
Lin Qingxuan is a Chinese cosmetics company with more 300 retail stores and over 2,000 employees. When forced to close 40% of its stores during the coronavirus crisis, the company acted quickly to leverage WeChat and TaoBao (owned by Alibaba, it’s the world’s biggest e-commerce site) to engage with its customers virtually.
The store sent coupons to their customers and redeployed their 100+ beauty advisors from the closed stores into online influencers. On February 14th, the store launched a large-scale live stream shopping event and were able to engage with 60,000 customers live (they currently have 6 million followers). The sales from one shopping advisor in two hours equaled that of four retail stores.
From “online clubbing sessions” to streamed music festivals, many Chinese brands turned to live streaming during this crisis. It’ll be interesting to see how this industry will grow in the US.
INSIGHTS | Brands turn to livestreaming as China stays home
Interesting to note that despite having a pretty big following and social presence online, Sephora has canceled all its North American in-store classes and services as of 3/12.
Why it’s hot: This crisis will likely force brands to be braver and creative and, ultimately, expedite their digital transformation.
Dove launched “Girls Room”, a new online video series focusing on teen girls and their experience dealing with social media pressures, body image issues, and bullying.
Dove co-created the series with Lena Waithe, who is almost as well-known by her acting career as her activism (he’s been called a “queero” in 2018 for creating meaningful work that inspires and tells the story of queer Black people coming of age).
The series has just launched ahead of Women’s History Month which, a perfect time to elevate stories about the challenges of young women in today’s culture.
Dove’s strategic move to connect with today’s teens shows the brand is willing to invest and play the long game by nurturing these relationships early so that they can hopefully become top of mind for years to come.
Why it’s hot: Although Dove has promoted body positivity and “real beauty” for over a decade, they’re looking for newer and fresher ways to bring this message to life in a way that aligns with today’s teens and their mobile-first media consumption. When it comes to fighting body issues and anxiety, Instagram is today’s biggest culprit so creating a series fit for this medium and mindset makes perfect sense.
Snapchat has released a beta version of a search tool called “Here For You” that will proactively offer mental health support and resources for those searching for sensitive topics like anxiety, depression, suicide and bullying.
Although not the first platform to offer resourceful tools (Instagram rolled out a “restrict” feature that lets users block abusive comments and Pinterest offers self-directed “emotional wellness activities”), this initiative feels specially relevant for Snapchat since:
1) they have one of the youngest audiences of any social media platform as it reaches 90% of 13-24 y.o, a group who may be the most vulnerable to online bullying on the platform
2) they have the advantage of being considered an intimate space for teens, and therefore a more comfortable place for users to search and, potentially, actually use these tools in needed times
Axios says that this is the first product launch “around what will be a bigger health and wellness push from Snapchat” to be rolled out over the next few months.
Why it’s hot: Social platforms will continue to play a huge role in our lives, especially among the very impressionable teen audience, so it’s reassuring to see how the main platforms are looking for ways to offer specific resources and tools to help those in need. Also, the accessibility to these tools, and awareness of this topic, will continue to normalize mental health.
MIT Technology Review: bit.ly/39VjUol
Social Media Today: bit.ly/38Neawu
Budweiser created a specialized labeling for social sharing as part a massive promotional effort around the Super Bowl. The SelfieBud special edition label is printed backward so it appears normal in selfies on social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.
Although Budweiser also launched a traditional Super Bowl commercial (minus Clydesdales), they know they need to do more than just a TV spot to stay relevant with younger audiences. The SelfieBud was part of a bigger experiential marketing campaign involving a BudX Hotel takeover that featured influencers with significant followings on social media.
Influencer marketing strategies are forecast to become more popular, with brands spending as much as $15 billion on such campaigns by 2022, according to Business Insider estimates based on data from influencer marketing agency Mediakix.
Why it’s hot:
-In today’s always-on world where it can feel like we’re all sharing similar experiences or at least similar stylistic aesthetics on social, original and exclusive experiences drive social currency for brands.
-Adapting your packaging to be more “user-centric” in order to solve a problem or demonstrate you understand your audience’s pain points (remember Snickers’ sassy wrappers?) is a fun way to drive excitement and, hopefully engagement for your brand.
We all know tax season is a stressful time, especially if a) you’ve never done it before and b) you have to do it yourself (Turbo-Tax-style). H&R, known for its vast network of tax experts, uses humor and the popular ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) which is “the experience of a tingling season on the skin often triggered by specific auditory and visual stimuli such as whispering”, to de-stress and help millennials feel more relaxed during tax season.
The fact that the brand can actually back up the idea of ‘peace of mind’ by having real people available to talk to (unlike Turbo Tax which mostly focuses on their online tool) makes this entertaining piece of content more believable and endearing.
JetBlue also tapped into this growing trend very recently to create a 9-minute long soundtrack YouTube video with the purpose of calming passengers during the extra stressful holiday traveling season. The video is called “AirSMR” and it features sounds of a standard JFK airport Terminal: suitcases rolling, fingers tapping a keyboard, and planes taking off and touching down (but none of the really annoying sounds of TSA agents or crying babies of course).
JetBlue shared the video on YouTube and other social media channels like Instagram, which, interestingly, resulted in 100% negative comments due to general negative airport experiences shared by customers. While it’s nice the brand is trying to stay relevant by tapping into this growing trend, it’d have been even better to have released this idea in conjunction with actual meaningful improvements to customers’ travel experiences, or, to have done like H&R Block which used the trend to make their own ads more pleasant.
Why it’s hot: Today’s always-on, overstimulated lives are causing extreme levels of burnout. Smart brands will look for ways their advertising and/or their experiences can help today’s burnout consumers de-stress, reset and reboot.
In short, comfort. Whether it’s the grueling polarizing political climate, the endless buzz of tech always pressing for our attention or our own personal life commitments tugging at us in all directions, we seem to be increasingly living in a constant state of anxiety and it’s only natural that we’re craving comfort.
According to Google Search data for 2019, Americans were more likely to be cooking up a Shepherd’s pie or indulging their sweet tooth with a homey snickerdoodle cookie rather than the Instagram-famous Unicorn cake which topped last year’s trending search spot. Speaking of comfort foods, after selling out in just two weeks, Popeye’s now famous chicken sandwich was brought back in the Fall to amazing success.
Why the bend toward comfort foods in 2019? It’s possible that these trending searches for folksy foods are driven by a culture increasingly hungry for an anxiety antidote, a bite of hygge, if you will.
The Pantone Color Institute would agree. They announced recently that the color for 2020 is the classic blue. You don’t need to know much about color theory to know blue = comfort. Pantone settled on a shade that offers “reassurance, confidence and connection that people may be searching for in an uncertain global miliu.”
Specially in uncertain times when it feels like things are always changing and nothing is ever certain, how can we offer our consumers more comfort?
How can brands balance the need to provide new and exciting experiences/innovation while also making them feel comforting and familiar?