Get Connected: How to harness the power of digital media

Retail Research
Get Connected:
How to harness the power of
digital media
May 2010
2 On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 INTRODUCTION
Why is a digital media program important?
Technological advancement in the last decade has
been so revolutionary – not to mention extensive
– that it has changed forever the ways in which
consumers behave: how they communicate, how
they gather information, how they socialize and,
naturally, how they shop. In such an ever-changing
environment, we in the shopping center industry
are compelled to adopt new strategies to harness
the benefits of new technology, and evolve with
consumers changing needs, on every front.
Adopting an integrated digital media program is no
longer merely important, it is essential. Changes
in digital media infrastructure and capabilities have
been paradigm-shifting not only for consumers, but
for those of us who wish to engage them – and
profit from them.
The good news is that many of us have already adopted new tactics in using digital media and some tactics are very cost-effective. On the
converse side, technology shifts and consumers’ use of them are not static phenomena; they are dynamic. As such, we must constantly evolve
to stay relevant in the eyes of our target market.
Shifts in consumer behavior have changed advertising & media strategy
Consumers are more in control than ever before of the content and media to which they are exposed. Increasingly hectic lifestyles demand a
new way of communicating. Consumers want to tailor the information that is delivered to them. They have an endless array of options for what
they listen to, watch and read.
According to a Pew study, 60% of consumers get news from the Internet and most have between 2 and 5 main news sources online. In fact,
74% of respondents hear of news via email or updates on social media sites.
Consumers are also creating their own content. Marketing is no longer a one-way, interruption-based activity. In order to be effective, we must
be interactive, dynamic and, most importantly, must provide unique value to the consumer.
On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 3
What this means for the retail industry
We must understand our target customers’ needs and wants before forming strategy. We need to answer the question, “How does it benefit
customers to spend time with our brand?” With consumers in charge of their media experience, we must engage them rather than talk at
Examples of how technology has changed how consumers use media
Traditional Sources
New Sources
Online feeds, email alerts,
online video
Consumers shoose the topics
they are interested in and
ignore everything else
Magazines, radio,
newspaper, TV
Internet banner ads,
ads on Google
Consumers avoid ads on TV and radio
through DVR and satellite radio;
online targeted ads often ignored
Product Research
Magazines,catalogs, in-store
Search engines like
Google, MSN & Yahoo!
Research done online even when
buying locally; catalog and in-store
research still done
In-store, catalogs
Online, mobile, iPad
Online shopping much more prevalent;
local shopping driven by online research;
catalogs drive online purchases
TV, radio, CDs,DVDs
Internet sites like Hulu,
Netflix, iTunes, Pandora,
Sirius and XM radio
Much greater consumer control of content,
interrupted by very few targeted ads
In-person, telephone
Social networks like
Facebook and MySpace
texting, video conferencing
Communication is viral, privacy is limited;
consumers are sharing more details about
themselves and their shopping
habits than ever before
Amazon, audiobooks,
ebooks through iPad,
Kindle and Nook
Traditional superstore bookstores need
to rethink value proposition and
offer consumers something special
Report focus and objectives
In this report, we focus on how changes in technology have impacted consumer expectations and buying behavior. We explore the different
facets of digital media – which encompasses websites, email, mobile communication and social media – and how they can be utilized to
engage consumers and improve profitability. Our objectives for the report are to:
• Outline the different digital media tools and what their capabilities are
• Provide relevant examples of how these tools are already being used
• Weigh the pros and cons of various social media vehicles like Facebook
• Explain why mobile marketing is so critical in today’s time-pressured environment
• Outline the steps you need to take before adopting a digital media program
• Explore the differences in adoption among generational cohorts and implications for marketing
• Explain why an integrated approach is critical
We hope you find this report practical and thought-provoking as you prepare to connect with consumers and strengthen your brand.
4 On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 THE DIGITAL MEDIA INDUSTRY
What do consumers want?
According to an IBM study involving 32,000
consumers in six countries, the overwhelming
consensus is that technology in the retail
marketplace is not a niche phenomenon. It is not
specific to age group, market or product category.
It is pervasive and unavoidable. As technology
use spreads, consumers are becoming more
sophisticated with the demands they place on
• 79% want to use websites to access and print
• 75% want to use mobile phones to find out
where the nearest store is located
• 66% want to see what goods are in stock
before going into the store.
• 78% of consumers say they are willing to "co-create or collaborate with retailers" by offering feedback on product design, product selection
and store layouts.
That last point is especially significant. More than three-quarters of respondents want to work with retailers in product design and store layout.
Consumers are ready to talk. Are you ready to listen?
What tools are available?
While not exactly a new medium, a shopping center’s or retailer’s website is still central to consumers’ shopping decisions. Consumers rely on
websites to conduct product research more than they do on other channels like stores, mobile phones and catalogs.
However, showcasing products in a static way is not enough. It is important to engage consumers by offering them meaningful content that is
relevant to their needs.
One example is through the use of virtual catalogs that users can “flip
through” online to get inspirations about new and innovative ways to
use the product (e.g., Crate & Barrel). Or offering online ordering with
in-store pick-up (e.g., Best Buy). Or allowing users to create personal
shopping avatars that correspond to their height, weight and build
which allows them to see how clothes would fit on their body (e.g.,
Land’s End).
Where consumers research/browse products
% of respondents
Mobile Phones
Source: Art Technology Group
On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 5
Email is already a popular way of engaging consumers through coupon offers, sales, loyalty programs and general eMarketing initiatives. It
has not lost its relevance but should be closely integrated into a complete digital media plan. We have to also be mindful of spamming even
“opt-in” consumers with too many offers. In this day of CRM, it is essential to match email offers with consumers who are likely to use them.
In a recent study, asked about how they would respond to a retailer’s email promotion, 29% say they would redeem the discount, 15%
ignore the offer, 54% consider whether the offer was relevant and, if not, browse the site for other products or services, 24% would think
positively of the store even if not interested in the offer, and 5% would think negatively of the retailer sending the offer.
Social media
Social media completely revolutionizes the way people interact and process information. It differs from traditional media in that anyone can
create, comment and add to online content. CGM, or consumer-generated media, as it is often called, consists of online channels such
as blogs, message boards, social networks, wikis and ratings sites. This two-way, dynamic aspect of social media creates relationships
between marketers and consumers.
Examples of social media
Social networking sites – e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace. These sites map relationships among users and allow for the
sharing of information.
Blogs – blogs allow content creation and sharing by both companies and consumers.
Video and photo sharing sites – e.g., Youtube, Flickr and Vimeo. These sites greatly simplify video and photo sharing.
Chat rooms and message boards – online meeting places where users discuss topics of interest.
Wikis – e.g., Wikipedia. Websites built for easy creation and editing of content.
Social bookmarking sites – e.g., Digg and Delicious. These sites allow users to suggest content to others and vote on the quality of content.
24% of respondents say they incorporate social networks into their purchasing behavior by notifying friends of items they have purchased.
The important point about social media sites is the capacity for two-way interaction. Traditionally, marketers spoke “at” consumers rather
than “with” them. With social media, the rules have changed. We can now solicit customer feedback and interact with them directly in a
“real-time” setting. Social media also allows for “buzz” and viral growth.
more Nowhere has the power of social media arguably been demonstrated
than in the rise of teen sensation, Justin Bieber.
Discovered on YouTube, this 16-yr old superstar racked up over 10
million views through word of mouth alone. Shortly after, he was signed
by a label and his album, My World, sold 137,000 copies in the first
week. His latest album, My World 2.0, debuted at #1 and sold 283,000
copies in the first week and 291,000 copies in the second week. It is
estimated that the teen heartthrob has grossed $15 million in recorded
music sales in the U.S. since the beginning of his career a year ago.
6 On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 Mobile applications
Mobile phone use is on the rise and will become a dominant factor in consumer research and buying behavior in the next few years. We in the
industry cannot afford to ignore it as an important channel in engaging consumers.
Nearly 50 million people in the US access the web on a mobile device, and this figure will reach nearly 100 million unique users per month by
the end of 2010, according to Millennial Media.
Mobile technology offers a unique advantage over traditional Web usage: transportability. In an age where consumers are constantly busy,
spending a great deal of their time away from their homes, the ability to reach buyers where they are is essential. Mobile phones also offer
another important dynamic – location-specific interaction. Consumers are already using mobile phone apps on iPhone to scan bar codes of
products and find out where it is cheapest to buy them. To take advantage of mobile technology’s potential, design mobile-specific websites that
are pared down and easy for consumers to navigate on their phones. Also consider special promotions that play to mobile strengths such as
offering scannable coupons, location-based discounts, and contests that require texting.
Many of us already utilize one or more of the above channels, particularly websites and email marketing. However, consumers are using all
channels. To fully engage them, you should consider
an integrated marketing program that ties all the
channels together to produce a unified marketing
On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 7
Applying intelligence: how to use the data
Social Media Success Story
Mount Berry Square Mall combined texting with social
media for its Daily Deals program, which highlighted
special sales and discounts at retailers. Daily Deals was
promoted through mall signage, floor clings, directory
decals, website postings, eblasts, Facebook and Twitter.
Result: Mount Berry Square secured 104 unique
opt-ins (users) from its Daily Deals promotion
How retailers are using it
Engaging the customer – Starbucks
The “My Starbucks Idea” program encourages customers to submit ideas for new products and services. They are also encouraged to vote
on whether or not ideas are important to the community. The best part of the website is the Ideas in Action tab, where consumer can check
where “things are at”. Starbucks also has a Facebook Fan Page, Twitter feed, and blog where company employees and experts share ideas
and valuable content with consumers.
Promoting recycling – Best Buy
Best Buy uses Facebook to promote its “Recycle it On” efforts. The retailer reveals how many pounds of electronics it has recycled and invites
fans to start a movement by recycling their electronics. Tapping into the need to make a difference while purchasing a product that truly is
mostly a “luxury” item is an interesting marketing technique. Best Buy’s Facebook page also allows fans to share with friends products they
bought at Best Buy and solicit advice, and also provides fans with gift ideas. Its Twitter account enables followers to ask any tech question of
the TwelpForce, which is a great way to quickly answer FAQs by customers and share them among followers.
New merchandise updates – Urban Outfitters
Urban Outfitters uses Twitter to tell customers about new items via upload photos and videos, and to give them special deals and discounts.
Both its Facebook and Twitter accounts encourage membership in the company’s Urban Shoe Club. The posts are the same as the tweets
and focus on new items.
Virtual catalog – The Gap
The Gap is capitalizing on the Facebook phenomenon by incorporating a great interactive tool – The Lookbook. Fans can find their perfect
denim match by rolling over the models and different denims options appear to help you visualize your perfect denim jeans.
8 On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 SOCIAL MEDIA
Why it’s important
With all social media, the essential point is to create content
consumers want and to develop meaningful interaction between
the company and users. Its interactive nature can be both a benefit
and a hazard, as users are free to post any comment they choose.
The consensus is that “social is the new search.” Consumers are
increasingly reliant on trusted personal relationships to determine
what is worthwhile to purchase, read, listen to and watch. Much like
Amazon’s recommendations, social sites allow users to view what
others in their networks consume, thereby discovering content
through social browsing.
Try it before you buy it: which tools fit your needs best
The world’s largest online social network boasts over 350 million users. According to the survey, Social Media: An Inside Look at the People
Who Use It, 7 out of 10 social media users between the ages of 18 and 34 regularly use Facebook more than other sites such as MySpace and
Twitter. Facebook use is growing exponentially for users over 35 years of age. The social network is so prolific that users post over 55 million
updates a day and share more than 3.5 billion pieces of content weekly.
Social Media Success Story
Having a healthy and active fan base for Facebook is critical to the
success of a social media program. Growing that fan base with
quality fans is an ongoing effort. The core of social media is to
make things relevant and personal shopping centers are an integral
part of the community in which they serve – providing opportunities
to make things relevant and personal.
In action: Bradley Square combined the power of social media
with the festive excitement of Halloween to execute a successful
contest for children at the trick-or-treat event. Children in their
costumes were featured on the site where votes were cast and
comments shared.
Results: In just 14 days, Bradley Square acquired more than 650
new Fans and hundreds of Fan comments and interactions.
On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 9
Where consumers research/browse products
Traffic to Facebook has exceeded traffic to Google since the week ending March 13, 2010.
Not only is it a tremendous social network engine, Facebook is growing in popularity as a means for consumers to receive valuable information
and promotions from companies. Chadwik Martin Bailey, a market research firm, found that consumers’ primary reason for becoming a fan of
a brand on social networking sites was to receive discounts. Other reasons were to gain access to exclusive content and show support of the
brand. Facebook users, in particular, were likely to show support for companies they liked by becoming fans. The implications for retail are
tremendous. The site offers many capabilities including discussion forums, sharing photos and videos, and testimonials. It is an inexpensive
way for you to connect with your target audience, grow virally by gaining “fans” and derive important feedback from customers.
Potential for viral growth
Potential for unconstrained negative feedback
Fairly easy to engage customers
Growth can be so large, you lose ability to engage “true” fans
Inexpensive way to promote business
Twitter is essentially a broadcasting system that allows users to transmit small bits of information to a large audience. It is less relationshiporiented than Facebook and its greatest use is to convey valuable, time-sensitive information to many people at once. In fact, Twitter users
typically “follow” a company specifically to get real-time information and exclusive offers. Consumers also use Twitter to ask questions about
products or services and to post reviews.
Potential for viral growth
Potential for unconstrained negative feedback
Effective way of quickly broadcasting promotions and
new merchandise
Necessary to continually update feeds to remain relevant
Weblogs (or Blogs)
An often overlooked vehicle, blogs help companies establish themselves as thought leaders. They are also an extremely useful way for you to
find out what consumers think about your products or your market and respond to any negative reviews or comments. So, essentially, blogs
can be excellent PR vehicles to monitor and manage a company’s reputation, if used wisely.
McDonald’s uses their blog, Open for Discussion, to tackle issues of social responsibility at the company.
Video blogs
Influencers + social media = buzz
Exposure to a small online shoe retailer went viral when the
store, Shoes of Prey, enlisted 16-year old Blair Flower – by
contacting her and sending her a free pair of shoes - to record
a video blog encouraging viewers to visit the store’s site. The
video became one of the top viewed on YouTube (450,000
views) and Shoes of Prey garnered over 200,000 visits in one
10 On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 Pros
Potential to position yourself as thought leader
Requires more effort and time than other media
Potential for viral growth
Potential for negative feedback
Effective way to offer meaningful content to audience
Social Media Success Story
Bradley Square Mall created a 2009 holiday field promotion that featured two of the top “Hot Items” for the season that participating
centers would give away during the holidays. The items chosen were the Dell Mini laptop and the Wii DJ Hero. The center allowed
shoppers to register to win these prizes two ways – by dropping off entry forms at drop of locations at select retailers and by mobile texting
to a special code advertised throughout the mall. Bradley Square posted the texting code on Facebook and Twitter in addition to on-mall
collateral. The Hot Item giveaway posting resulted in 412 unique opt-ins (users).
On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 11
The rise of smartphones – why they cannot be ignored
There are currently more than 270 million mobile phone users
in the US and 82% never leave home without their devices,
according to a study by Synovate. Moreover, 38% of youth
claim that their mobile phones are more important to them
than their wallet!
The number of smartphone users is expected to reach 1 billion
by 2014 - four times as many as 2009 (Park Associates) - and
these users are using their phones to shop.
Mobile commerce is expected to comprise 8% of the
e-commerce market in the next 5 years, and shoppers are
expected to spend approximately $119 billion on products
and services purchased via mobile phones worldwide.
Mobile marketing expenditures are expected to exceed $2 billion in 2010 and $3 - 5 billion by 2012.
The implications for retail are staggering. With consumers becoming more dependent on their phones for researching, socializing,
entertainment, and buying, it is imperative to engage them on this platform. Moreover, the simultaneous use of channels such as mobile
technology and social media is increasingly blurring the line between different media, making a unified strategy even more crucial.
According to a study by Retrevo, about 48% of those polled said they check
or update Facebook or Twitter after they’ve gotten into bed at night and/or
before they get out of bed in the morning. That number jumps to 76% for
the 25-and-younger set, with a whopping 19% of those Millennials saying
they also check in whenever they wake up during the night. 16% also rely on
Facebook or Twitter as the sole delivery for their “morning news.
Apps Rule! How they are changing the
landscape of consumer behavior
Mobile phone applications, or apps as they are popularly called, are the
bread and butter of the mobile technology sphere. The allure of apps lies in
their ability to transform the user experience and offer creative and valuable
solutions to consumers needs, whether for entertainment, education,
socializing, or productivity. In a world where electronics have become the
new fashion, apps have become the accessories of choice.
Nearly 1 in 3 US adult mobile phone subscribers now has either a smartphone
or quick message device (QMD), up from 1 in 5 less than a year ago.
12 On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 It is estimated that in a few years the market for mobile phone applications will eclipse the market for CDs. The global app market is expected
to catapult to US$17.5 billion by 2012. The iPhone App Store alone offers more than 25,000 apps, many of them free, and accounted for over
2 billion downloads in its first year.
Retailers have taken the cue and are rushing to develop apps that bring them closer to their target market by offering useful tools that improve
the quality of the shopping experience.
It is predicted that by 2014, nearly 20 billion mobile apps will be downloaded yearly.
Apps in action
• Google’s new mobile app lets users search local inventory to see whether a particular stores have desired items in stock.
• Apps such as RedLaser or ShopSavvy allow users to scan product barcodes to conduct a local price comparison and determine where
it is cheapest to buy a product.
• Apps like UrbanSpoon allow users to find local restaurants within a specified price range and read customer reviews before making a
Retailers and shopping center owners are using apps to empower consumers to give gifts, redeem coupons, buy movie tickets, make
dinner reservations, and navigate local malls.
Technology is already being put into place that will enable shoppers to wave their mobile phones to pay at the grocery checkout,
department stores, restaurants and movie theaters.
One size does not fit all – the importance of differentiating website and mobile
site design
Mobile phone technology is a completely separate phenomenon
from the Web and should be treated as such. Because of the way
in which consumers use their phones and their relatively small size,
mobile sites must be designed differently from regular web sites. In
most cases, functionality should be pared down to the essentials
and it should be very easy for shoppers to navigate around the site.
In addition to having a separate mobile site, there are other tactics
that are considered effective in engaging customers:
Mobile store locator – perhaps most key, it allows users to quickly
find the nearest locations for a particular retailer. Syncing with
Google maps is an added value to help shoppers easily navigate
to the store.
Mobile subscription list – allows you to send SMS messaging alerts to notify shoppers of special promotions, events, and giveaways. This
can be coordinated with email marketing to strengthen the shopper connection. For instance, sending a special even invitation via email and
allowing consumers to text in RSVPs
Mobile coupons – already popular with consumers, mobile coupons have a 5 - 15%
conversion rate compared to <1% for print coupons (Mobile Marketer). The ease of
pulling up a coupon on a phone at the cash register versus remembering to carry
coupons makes this a no-brainer.
SMS ordering – allowing users to place pick-up orders via text message is an easy
sell in a time-crunched environment.
Quality trumps quantity
When sending coupons via mobile make sure you
make it worth it for the recipient. Avoid sending
too many, as more is not better. It costs money to
receive messages so consumers are not happy to
get “junk” messages.
On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 13
So you’ve adopted – now what?
Data, data everywhere
With the viral nature of digital media, it is easy to become overwhelmed with all the
data from Facebook and Twitter accounts to blogs and mobile campaigns. “Voice-ofthe-customer analytics” allow you to extract intelligence from large volumes of online
information such as email surveys, blogs, product review sites, and social networking
sites. Such programs comb through online content and look for spikes in negative or
positive words associated with particular brands, products or services.
Furthermore, much like traditional CRM transformed the ways in which companies tracked
information on their clients, social CRM can do the same for social media. A comprehensive
social CRM program can not only monitor your performance in the social stratosphere,
it can also facilitate the development of relationships with your best customers and
“influencers”, the key group of people who create “buzz” and spread adoption rates. It
enables you to remain flexible in dealing with problems such as complaints, before they
snowball and damage your reputation. Social CRM can also identify trends and engender
creative ideas.
Metrics you can track:
• Monthly and yearly growth in traffic referred by social sites
• Proportion of referrals from users sharing content from your site versus social site referrals
• Specific site content and activities which drive the highest volume of views and sharing activity
• Social conversation “buzz” about your brand
• Conversion rates from promotions broadcasted through social media
Constantly refresh
Because digital media is so dynamic, you must continually find ways to present fresh content and meaningful value to consumers.
Responding to queries and comments is key in developing a reputation for authenticity, which is so critical to consumers, especially
14 On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 The dangers of “leaping without looking”: 10 essential steps to take before adoption
1. Set your objectives. Decide what you are trying to accomplish. Do you want to find out more about your customers, give them information, boost sales, or build your brand?
2. Research. Do your homework. Check out sites that are similar to your line of business as well as those that
are in a completely different arena. Take note of what catches your attention and what you found
distracting or unnecessary.
3. Enlist an expert. Do not go it alone. An expert can make a tremendous difference in transitioning your marketing goals into digital media action.
4. Assemble a team. Determine who is going to take the lead and assign responsibilities. Digital media requires constant updates and monitoring to remain relevant and responsive.
5. Set a timeline. Set dates and times to set up accounts and accomplish your marketing goals.
6. Set a plan for negative responses. With two-way media, this is inevitable. Make sure that you have a plan
in place for dealing with them.
7. Develop content. Determine how you will position yourself within the digital stratosphere and build content
to support your desired brand image. Are you the fashion expert or the bargain guru in your community?
8. Engage influencers. Anyone who has ever read Malcolm Blackwell’s book, The Tipping Point, knows the importance of finding and engaging influencers – trendsetters who are responsible for a disproportional number of product and idea adoptions.
9. Remember your infrastructure. Depending on your digital media goals, you will need to consider staffing, mobile sites, Wi-Fi, real-time inventory tracking and other capabilities.
10. Measure it. Social media, in particular, can act like be compared to a modern-day focus group with as much – or more! – information moving from customers to businesses. Be sure to establish benchmarks and put systems in place to gauge responses from consumers, and act on them. Remain flexible and agile
and consumers will respond favorably.
On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 15
Social networking use by age
Gen X
Does age matter when it comes to
digital media use?
While Millennials are still the clear leaders in social networking,
in the past year Boomers’ use of this medium is growing fastest,
more than doubling from December 2008 to January 2010. Gen X
use has also accelerated dramatically. The overwhelming reality
is that social media use is increasing across all generations,
albeit for different reasons. It is important to engage each
generation based on what their particular needs are.
10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%
Source: Pew Internet Research
Generational Differences in Online Activities
Online Teens
Gen Y
Gen X
Go Online
Teens and Gen Y most likely to engage in social activities
Play games online
Watch videos online
Send instant messages
Use social network sites
Download music
Read blogs
Create a blog
Visit a virtual world
Gen X leads in health info and online purchases
Get health info
Buy something online
Bank online
Get religious info
Almost uniform across cohorts
Use email
Use search engines
Research products
Get news
Make travel reservations
Rate a person or product
Participate in an online auction
Download podcasts
Pew Internet & American Life Project 2006-2008
16 On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 How to coordinate your digital media strategy – by age group
As we see from the data above, all Generational Cohorts engage in digital media use, albeit in different ways. Older groups tend to be more
utilitarian in their use: checking mail, researching products, shopping and banking online. Younger groups, on the other hand, use digital
media primarily for entertainment and socializing and tend to use the different media simultaneously, seamlessly moving from one to the
Cosmo Girl Magazine asked girls aged 13-24 if they considered a store a
friend and 60% said yes.
For teens and Millennials, being actively engaged by companies in
giving feedback, helping create or update products and evangelizing the
brand is extremely important. Companies that respond to this need by
offering personalized, customizable products and listening to their young
customers will profit.
Thirty-eight percent of youth already claim that mobile is more important
to them than their wallet.
Key facts about Millennials:
They want to be “in the know” – Share valuable content and give them the ability to pass along to others. Keep them updated on new trends,
merchandise and specials.
They want to participate – Central to engaging this generation is inviting their feedback and participation and responding to it by putting their
suggestions into action. This builds authenticity.
They crave authenticity – Millennials want to believe in the companies they patronize. Be accessible and transparent.
Friends are a tremendous influence – Give them the ability to involve feedback form their friends before making a purchase. Encourage
reviews and brand evangelizing.
They use different types of media simultaneously – Moving from the website, to your store, to mobile should be a seamless process. Promote
Instant gratification is a priority – Make plans to refresh merchandise, content and promotions regularly. Stale content is a turnoff.
They want to make a difference – This generation wants to be valued. They also prioritize environmental sustainability. Companies that
promote sustainability will win their respect – and business.
Women 55 and older are the fastest-growing demographic on Facebook according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project’s December
2008 survey. In fact, Facebook dominates social network use by older adults. According to comScore, roughly 60% of social networking
Boomers – 22.6 million – used Facebook in October 2009. No other social network comes close.
This is significant because Boomers who use social networks are twice as likely, according to Anderson Analytics, to buy products online
than those who don’t use digital media.
On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 17
Sharing worthy content is the key to attracting and keeping Boomers as they aren’t just lurking on social networks, they are sharing and
recruiting. Boomers crave a story and a reason to align themselves with a brand. Social media should not replace traditional media yet
for this age cohort. It is true that Boomers
are embracing social networks, but they
still spend significant amounts of time with
traditional media – television, newspapers
and magazines.
The new “Social Media Maven” is a significant
segment within the Boomer cross section.
The profile of this group is one that is heavily
connected, exploring and expanding their
network. These Social Media Mavens have
more frequent contact with individuals across
all types of groups within their social network
– not just family or neighbors, but issueoriented groups and co-workers as well. This
new sub-segment has more face-to-face
contact and uses smartphones more than the
rest of this generation. Mavens are more likely to try new products and technologies and seek new experiences. They are recommenders
who embrace the role of technology in their connected lives. The emergence of this group in the Boomer segment is further confirmation for
companies targeting the mature consumer that online media should be at the core of an integrated marketing campaign.
Another key factor in adoption of digital media spans the socioeconomic and
cultural divides of the population. It is often assumed that blue collar workers
or ethnically diverse groups are not engaged in digital media because of the
costs associated with it. These groups actually are the leaders in many forms
of digital media.
Almost one-half of African-American and Hispanic consumers reported
having accessed the Internet via a handheld device in contrast to only 28%
of Caucasians.
18 On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 TYING IT ALL TOGETHER – NO MEDIUM STANDS ALONE
Integration, integration, integration – a cross-channel approach is critical
When integrating your digital media platform, be sure to look at how your various media channels work together to produce a unified
brand image. While each channel should be uniquely tailored to correspond to how consumers will use it, the messages should not be
contradictory. For instance, if you are positioning yourself as a green company, your Twitter messages, Facebook updates and website
should all work together to present the same image, albeit in different ways. Assume your customers will be moving between the different
channels and coordinate the unique messages and promotions on each to reinforce your brand while offering viewers something fresh and
new on each medium.
In conclusion, adopting a comprehensive digital media program is critical in connecting effectively with consumers. When formulating your
plan, spend some time thinking about your customers and what their unique needs are, and then evaluate the tools available to determine
which mix will best fulfill your objectives. One of the advantages of digital media program is that it is relatively inexpensive compared to
traditional media and the reach is tremendous. However, on the converse side, it requires time and dedication to get right and adequate
staffing resources must be dedicated to keeping your program agile and effective.
10 commandments of digital media
1. Thou shalt remember your customers. The whole point of digital media is to actively engage shoppers and give them what they need.
2. Thou shalt integrate. Coordinate your different media tools so consumers can move seamlessly from one to the other.
3. Thou shalt remain responsive. The two-way nature of today’s media requires a commitment to responding to consumers directly and in a timely manner.
4. Thou shalt not stagnate. Technology is a dynamic tool and, to remain relevant, it is necessary to continually evolve with new developments in order to stay relevant.
5. Thou shalt deliver value. Value takes the form of meaningful content, innovative ways to engage shoppers and promotions that really fulfill the needs of your target market.
6. Thou shalt remember Justin Bieber. The power of digital media is evidenced in the success of this new teen icon. Make your growth organic.
7. Thou shalt remain ethical. Do not post fake customer reviews or otherwise falsely misrepresent your brand. Consumers have a way of catching on.
8. Thou shalt not fight fire with fire. While negative comments and responses are inevitable and responses are necessary, it is important to not escalate conflicts. Everyone will be watching how you respond.
9. Thou shalt be smart. Smartphones are the immediate future. Engaging customers through this medium is essential for growth. Construct mobile sites and apps. Promote your local presence. Consumers will react.
10. Thou shalt not panic. It is easy to feel overwhelmed in this uncharted territory but, remember, everyone else is learning too. Hire an expert to navigate you through your choices and processes and keep on top of – inescapable – new trends.
On Point • Retail Research Paper • 2010 19
For more information on this report, contact Greg Maloney, President & CEO, Retail 404 995 6315.
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