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Looking Ahead: What Winning Customer Experiences Will Look Like in 2020

With 2018 in the books and 2019 officially here, smart brands have already begun looking forward to 2020, and the biggest trends for the coming year. And one of the most significant areas where brands are looking to set themselves apart from the competition is with personalized customer experiences.

In fact, according to a recent report by Econsultancy:

  • 86% of customers prefer brands that offer personalized experiences, even if that brand isn’t the cheapest.
  • 73% of customers call customer experience an “important factor” in their purchasing decisions.
  • 65% of customers say that good customer experiences are more important than good advertising.

So, how can savvy marketers and brand directors capitalize on the biggest customer experience trends of the coming year? According to Mark de Bruijn of The Future of Commerce, there are three areas CMOs and decision-makers should focus on.

Let’s take a look at them.

interactive shopping experience-girl touching touch-screen

Hyper-Individualization of Retail Experiences

Thanks in large part to the increase in connected technology known as the “Internet of Things,” brick-and-mortar retail spaces will compete with online shopping by offering unique in-person experiences. How will such a connected retail store look in reality? De Bruijn offers the example of a shoe store.

“The moment a customer passes the store, he or she should get a personalized deal offer on their smartphone, letting them know that the newest edition of their favorite shoe is on sale for 20% off, and is available in-stock at that store, right now,” he explains. But the opportunity for personalization goes further. That customer can then enter the store, and “get measurements on their walking patterns, soles, and weight. Based on that data, they can get advice on the footwear that best suits their needs.” That is an engaging, personalized customer experience worth coming into the store for.

Putting the Customer at the Center of the Product Cycle

Plenty of companies use focus groups and market research during the research and development stage of a product. It’s an excellent way to make sure you’re giving your customers what they want. But what if you could solicit customer feedback and make improvements during the product lifecycle? That’s what brands like Tesco and Burberry are doing with their customer experiences.

Fashion retailer Burberry invited customers to share the ways they personalized their famous Burberry coats, snapping pictures of clever uses and various ways to wear them. Burberry then took several of the most popular suggestions and used them in marketing materials, from print images of models showing the coats worn a certain way to in-store mannequins featuring them.

Burberry saw a 36% rise in sales of their coats during the campaign. Your products should be designed with your customers in mind. Now, you can make sure your customers know it.

augmented reality mobile for shop - retail continuity

Virtual Reality Blending In-Store and Online Experiences

One customer experience trend that will carry over from 2018 is the rise of virtual reality (VR) in shopping. But as de Bruijn explains, retail brands will soon be using VR to bring the in-store shopping experience online. “Consumers will not just use [VR] for gaming, but also for home shopping sessions. They can literally walk through the virtual store from the comfort of their couches,” he explains, adding that retails gain an edge, too. “Retailers will enjoy the traditional advantages of brick-and-mortar stores in an online setting: the element of surprise, the ability to steer impulse buying and strategic product placement.”

Meanwhile, de Bruijn says, brick-and-mortar gets the customization treatment from VR. “The digital setting also offers a unique feature that is not available for brick-and-mortars. The store’s layout and even the inventory are fully customizable to the preferences and habits of the individual customer.”

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2020 is shaping up to be a big year for retailers and marketers. Big on keeping the growing importance of personalized customer experiences in focus, brands can compete and win by delivering truly engaging, winning shopping experiences.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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Belief-Driven Brands: Reshaping Retail Landscape in 2019

be the change - brand activism

Consumers today are more plugged into social issues and concerns than any group since the 1960s. And that impacts the way they shop, too. That’s according to a new Edelman’s report  “Brands Take A Stand,” which examines how belief-driven purchases are reshaping the retail landscape in 2019. So, how can brands take a stand in the new year, while also helping their bottom lines stand tall?

gen-z-holding arms together

Brands Can Drive Revenue by Standing for Something

For a long time, the prevailing logic was that a brand’s marketing should not ruffle any feathers. If there was political or social turmoil in the air, your branding should avoid it, and instead focus solely on the merits of your product. But as the name of the Edelman report suggests, the market is changing, and brand marketing is changing with it.

“Consumers’ purchases are becoming more and more belief-driven, particularly over the past year,” the report states. “In every market surveyed, more consumers were taking a brand’s mission and activism into account when making decisions about what to buy.” The report suggests that not only should brands not avoid social activism, but in fact should embrace it as a new driver of revenue in 2019.

“Taking a stand, no matter the cause is no longer something brands can shy away from if they want to be at the forefront of consumers’ minds,” the report says. And Edelman CEO Richard Edelman agrees, saying that “purchasing activism” is a simple and effective way for shoppers to feel like they’re making a difference.

“People go with their pocketbooks, in a way,” Edelman explains. “They want business to take the lead on change, and they want to feel as if they’re making an impact.”

green initiative-sustainability

The Bottom Line is The Bottom Line for Brand Activism

Brands used to steer away from activism because it would hurt their bottom lines. For each shopper who was happy with that brand’s stance, there were likely to be two or three more who either didn’t care or chose to boycott the brand for that same stance. The numbers didn’t pan out. It just didn’t make good business sense.

But all that has changed, as the cultural zeitgeist has shifted back towards activism, especially as Millennials and Generation Z make up more and more of the market (approximately 40% of all consumers and over $1.4 trillion in buying power by 2020). And, according to the Edelman report, businesses can now bolster their bottom lines by investing in brand activism.

The report reveals, 65% of global consumers are making belief-driven purchases. That’s a 50% increase over last year – an enormous shift. It also found that an estimated 57% of American consumers are currently buying or boycotting at least one brand because of its position on social issues. A similar study by Havas Media reports that belief-driven brands outperformed the overall stock market by 120% this year and that the top 50 belief-driven brands outperformed the overall S&P 500 index by more than 1200%. The bottom line is clear: for brands, the time is now to take a stand and bolster revenue with belief-driven marketing.

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The common marketing logic for brands used to be avoiding activism and belief-driven advertising. But not anymore. Today, brands must take a stand to win an ever-increasing portion of the consumer population. By doing so, they can not only improve their revenue but can win lasting, powerful brand loyalty that is built upon something greater than the color or quality of a product.

And that’s the bottom line.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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Top Trends for Influencer Marketing: Are Your Audiences Under the Right Influence?

influencer marketing

“Why should I trust you?”

This is the question from customers that even the best marketing departments dread. Because after all, why should a prospect or a customer believe marketers are telling the truth when their clear intention is for their audience to spend money on their products.

Studies have shown that overall consumer confidence in the trustworthiness of corporate marketing is declining. According to some estimates, as much as 69% of consumers inherently distrust brand advertising, and 43% of respondents report that they trust brand advertising less than they used to.

Enter Influencer Marketing.

While consumer trust in brands has fallen off a cliff, trust in their fellow consumers has risen precipitously. 70% of shoppers state that they are influenced by recommendations from their peers and fellow “normal people.” In fact, consumers today are 30% more likely to purchase if it is recommended by a trusted influencer, rather than a celebrity. And 74% of consumers say that they do trust social media networks to guide them to purchase decisions.

This is where influencer marketing presents an enormous opportunity for smart companies. Let’s take a look at what Brandon Brown of Grin has identified as some of the biggest current trends in influencer marketing.

Retail Influencer Marketing Is Growing

From lifestyle to home décor to fashion, retail brands are embracing influencer marketing faster than any other segment. In fashion, for example, well-known brands like Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Zara, and Sephora are working with popular social media influencers to model their products and give audiences a taste of what they, too might look like in the featured clothes or cosmetics.

In fact, Lord & Taylor recently ran a successful campaign where they tapped 50 influencers to each post photos wearing the exact same dress and tagging it with a predetermined hashtag. The result? The dress sold out of every Lord & Taylor in America in three days. Retail brands should give influencer marketing heavy considering in their marketing plans.

people whiteboarding-marketing assessment

The Rise of B2B Influencer Marketing

The power and promise of influencer marketing isn’t just limited to retail and B2C brands, however. And one of the ingenious ways B2B brands are leveraging it is with employee advocacy programs. Over the last three years, employee advocacy programs among B2B brands have increased by 191%.

Employee advocacy programs offer the best of both worlds in influencer marketing. The brand, for its part, enjoys the trust, authenticity, and believability that only real social media advocacy from real employees can garner. The employees themselves, on the other hand, benefit from the increased “professionalism” that such content brings to their social media pages.

The fact is that B2B brands need to capture the attention of their audiences, and more so, they need to do it in a way that is authentic and lasting. Influencer marketing and employee advocacy programs are an efficient way to do both.

The Ability to Measure ROI Will Be Crucial

As with all marketing efforts, the ability to definitively prove the value and effect of influencer marketing programs will be critical to securing ongoing buy-in from key decision-makers within your organization.

Fortunately, many savvy brands are implementing clever ways to improve their ability to measure influencer marketing ROI. Just as many brands are linking their digital and print marketing channels with the use of custom URLs and promo codes, so too are they measuring influencer marketing ROI. On the simple end of the spectrum, fastidious use of one or two set hashtags for each campaign enables marketers to easily search the engagement of those hashtags.

Likewise, many brands are now distributing custom discount and coupon codes to their influencers, encouraging them to share them with their audiences. That way, whenever a customer enters that unique discount code, the brand can know for certain that they were referred by that particular influencer, and his or her promotional activities.

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As consumer trust in brands and marketing departments continues to plummet, B2B and B2C brands alike are turning to influencer marketing as a smart, cost-effective way to make their marketing budgets go further. If your brand is struggling with trust and authenticity, influencer marketing may be an excellent solution to consider.

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Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

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Five Tips for Choosing the Right Promotional Marketing Distributor

As competition continues to grow in every industry, it’s becoming more and more important for brands to be able to offer their customers and prospects a truly superior, personalized experience. That’s according to the Advertising Specialty Institute, who explains that to really impress your customers with promotional items, it’s absolutely critical to choose a distributor that offers the best service. Your distributor enables your business and their skill and service reflect upon your brand. That’s why ASI has identified five key qualities to look for in a partner.

Let’s take a look!

Low Prices

At the end of the day, nothing talks like money. And whether that’s costs, ROI, or revenue, it’s important to choose a distributor that offers highly competitive pricing for the production and delivery of promotional items. “Rather than slash your profit margins for the sake of winning a sale,” ASI explains, brands should work with a partner to secure affordable, consistent costs from the very beginning. That way, you’ll protect your margins, you’ll be able to save your customers money, and you’ll be able to capitalize on every promotional opportunity without breaking your budget.

Responsiveness and Flexibility

Customer demands are changing faster than ever, and it’s critical to work with a distributor who can respond with speed, agility, and flexibility. Whether you want to capitalize on a rapidly developing promotion (one centered around an event, for example) or just seize the latest trend while it’s still hot (fidget spinners, anyone?), your partner should specialize in fast turnarounds, quick changes, and ultra-responsiveness via a highly optimized supply chain. Don’t just meet your deadlines; exceed them.

man and woman looking at print samples

Attention to Quality

Promotional products may be inexpensive, but that doesn’t mean they can be low-quality. When you place your brand’s name and logo on a promotional giveaway, that product continues to represent your company in the mind of the recipient for weeks and months to come. Each time they use that bottle opener or thumb drive or shopping bag, they will think of you. If that product is low-quality or falls apart…well, that’s the level of quality they’ll associate with your brand.

It’s critically important to partner with a distributor who not only has a proven track-record of delivering high-quality products, but who maintains strict quality control practices as part of their workflow.

Past Reputation

It’s always wise to check any potential distributor’s previous history with customers. In this case, you want to choose one with a very high customer satisfaction rate and with plenty of positive testimonials. If a potential partner comes highly recommended, it generally means that previous customers have been happy with their services and products. Recommendations and testimonials are the ultimate receipt of satisfaction, so steer clear of anyone that can’t demonstrate a long list of happy customers.

Exceptional Customer Service

Customer service is now a core competency for any business worth its salt, and your promotional marketing partner should be no exception. The distributor of your choice should be quick to respond to inquiries and concerns, and should provide you with realistic, accurate timelines for things like production, delivery, and if necessary, returns. Your partner should value your business, because your business is their business. Don’t settle for anything less.

Subscribe to the Blog

Why NVISION?

For more than three decades we’ve partnered with Fortune 500 companies to deliver marketing operations solutions. Led by a strategic account management team, we’ll help you develop, procure, fulfill and distribute printed collateral, signage, point-of-purchase displays, direct mail, branded merchandise and much more.

LEARN MORE