One Small Step for Babies, One Giant leap for Brands
Gone are the days when baby products were solely functional. Today, parents seek more than just basic utility; they demand products that seamlessly integrate into their busy lives, products that simplify the daily tasks associated with raising a child.
However, the pursuit of convenience has not come at the expense of safety, and fortunately, leading baby brands are on a mission to make parents’ lives easier by developing products that prioritise convenience, without cutting corners when it comes to safety.
Below, Industry Specialist, Emily showcases some of her preferred brands that are at the forefront of prioritising baby safety.
Stokke, a renowned Norwegian company, has been a global leader in crafting best-in-class solutions for children for over four decades.
Stokke’s guiding principle is always the best interest of the child, with all their products designed to promote child development and nurture stronger family connections. Everything the brand manufactures, from highchairs to cribs, strollers, and carriers, as a testament to their dedication to safety and well-being, with all of their products being ethically made and free from harmful substances.
What truly sets them apart is their Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) certification – an independent seal of approval that speaks volumes about their safety testing.
Before Stokke’s team of experts dive into creating a new product, they take the time to understand children and families, learning more about how their creations will be used and addressing any unique challenges that may arise.
To ensure this, they collaborate with a roster of experts in child development, from developmental psychologists to paediatricians, all working in unison to keep babies and kids safe.
Stokke has also set a remarkable standard for safety with its YoYo pushchair, a product that stands out for its contemporary design that seamlessly marries form and function. The YoYo pushchair’s user-friendly features, such as easy folding and compact storage, reflect Stokke’s dedication to enhancing the parenting experience.
While the YoYo pushchair’s design is undeniably appealing, what truly sets it apart is its commitment to safety. Stokke recognises that style should never come at the expense of a child’s well-being, and they have taken extensive testing measures to ensure that the YoYo pushchair meets and exceeds the global standards for child safety in baby products.
BeSafe, a family-owned Norwegian company, has an interesting history that dates back over 100 years. Originally known for crafting horse saddles since 1919 and car interiors since 1959, BeSafe shifted its focus to child safety in 1963.
A true pioneer, BeSafe introduced the concept of rear-facing car seats in 1989, advocating for children’s safety even when it faced scepticism. Today, rear-facing travel is recognised as five times safer than forward-facing.
BeSafe’s commitment to child safety is evident in its long history of innovations, from pregnancy belts to reclining baby seats, and its collaboration with premium stroller brands like Stokke.
This year, BeSafe’s Stretch B car seat earned a perfect 5-star safety rating in an international car seat test, with high praise from the German automotive association ADAC. The official ADAC tests compile the results of crash, usability, ergonomics, chemical, and cleaning assessments to give a product score. The lower the figure, the better the product has performed. ADAC highlights the Stretch B as a “Very safe child seat, in which children up to about 7 years of age are secured purely rear facing.”
BeSafe’s Stretch B, along with the Stretch model, has consistently performed well in various tests, earning titles like “Test winner” in Norway and Sweden by “Best-i-test.nu,” passing the rigorous Swedish Plus Test, and securing the “Best Car Seat for Safety” award from IndyBest in the UK. Notably, BeSafe’s commitment to sustainability also earned the Stretch B the Baby Innovation GREEN AWARD 2023, cementing its position as a leader in child safety and innovation.
CYBEX offers a diverse range of baby essentials, from car seats and baby carriers to kids’ furniture and pushchairs, and their hallmark is safety that seamlessly blends with urban lifestyles.
At the heart of CYBEX’s brand philosophy is the CYBEX D.S.F. Innovation Principle, a triple-threat strategy that encompasses unique Design, unbeatable Safety, and top-notch Functionality. This approach has not only given rise to award-winning car seats like the rear-facing Sirona but has also earned them an impressive fifteen Red Dot Design Awards. Overall, the brand has received over 500 awards for design, safety, and innovation.
In early 2014, CYBEX joined forces with the German company Goodbaby International Holdings Limited. Goodbaby, headquartered in China, boasts a remarkable legacy of over 25 years in research, development, design, and rigorous testing, backed by their state-of-the-art production facilities. They have set global benchmarks for safety, innovation, design, and manufacturing, making this partnership a match made in heaven for those seeking the very best in safe baby products.
Silver Cross, a British nursery brand, is celebrated worldwide for its safe and aesthetically pleasing baby products. With a legacy spanning over 140 years, the brand has remained committed to upholding the highest standards of safety and craftsmanship, ensuring that infants receive the finest start in life.
Silver Cross takes pride in ensuring the safety and comfort of infants and toddlers by adhering to rigorous safety standards and conducting thorough testing to meet and exceed industry regulations. In 2020, the Silver Cross Dream infant carrier achieved ADAC’s highest ever score when put through their rigorous testing programme.
Silver Cross products adhere to stringent safety regulations, not just in one country but across various global markets. They understand that safety knows no borders, and their compliance with international standards ensures that children worldwide can enjoy their products securely.
In the realm of the baby products industry, a steadfast commitment to safety should not merely serve as a marketing strategy for brands; it should be the very bedrock upon which they build their foundations.
The responsibility to set the gold standard in safety lies firmly on the shoulders of industry leaders such as Stokke, BeSafe, Cybex, and Silver Cross. Whether it involves mitigating potential hazards like choking risks, safeguarding against sharp edges, eliminating the use of any potentially harmful materials, or steering clear of designs that could pose tipping risks, baby brands must leave no stone unturned in ensuring the safety and well-being of your precious little ones.
With the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic redefining the ways we inhabit our living spaces—combining work, leisure, and every-day life —global revenue in the DIY & home improvements sector has surged. This growth, amounting to 4.5% compared to previous years, has prompted experts to envision this industry’s potential to reach an astonishing $1.1 trillion.
Yet, as the Covid-19 dust settles and research indicates a gradual return to pre-pandemic growth rates, it prompts a compelling question: What lies ahead for the DIY & Housewares industry?
As the allure of home improvement experiences a slight ebb, brands in the sector are being encouraged to employ innovative strategies to maintain momentum amidst changing consumer behaviours and market dynamics.
So how are brands keeping up with the shifting tides?
Whilst sustaining appeal and desirability within the consumer market has long been a fundamental objective for a business. In today’s unpredictable economy, this pursuit takes on even greater significance.
Consumer-centric innovation is an opportunity for brands to remain relevant and has quickly become a crucial element within the DIY and housewares sector. It empowers brands to create products and experiences precisely attuned to the evolving behaviours of consumers. An exemplary case of consumer-centric innovation can be seen by Etsy, the global online marketplace.
Recognising a growing desire among their customers to support small businesses, Etsy recently embarked on a series of initiatives. The “Etsy Uplift Initiative” was a standout, designed to highlight and elevate local and small-scale sellers, simplifying the process for customers to actively support these businesses.
Moreover, as Etsy also noted more of their consumers embracing sustainable and eco-conscious practices, the American eCommerce brand expressed its commitment to social responsibility through the “Afghan Refugees Collective.” This initiative encompasses over 20 shops owned by Afghan refugees in the United States, collectively generating over $800,000 in sales.
“Not only do these moves resonate with the current consumer sentiment,” Lewis comments.
“They also solidify Etsy’s reputation as a platform that listens to its audience and connects buyers with unique and authentic products.“
A Personalised Approach
The significance of offering personalised and customisable products has emerged as a driving force behind sustained sales in the DIY & Housewares sector. Companies are no longer simply providing products; they’re empowering customers to become co-creators.
Tylko, a digital-first company specialising in customisable furniture, is a standout example of how harnessing a personalised approach can drive sales and foster brand loyalty in this post-pandemic era.
Tylko’s commitment to offering a personalised approach to furniture design, from adjustable shelving to bespoke tables, led to a whopping 132% increase in sales following Covid-19, in comparison to pre-pandemic years. A clear indicator that personalisation can enhance the emotional connection consumers have with their products, increasing their willingness to spend and ultimately bolstering brand loyalty.
Another approach that many brands can take to personalisation, is offering tailored recommendations to their customers shopping online.
Lowe’s, an American retail company specialising in home improvements, recently leveraged data from their loyalty program and customer interactions to create personalised offers and recommendations to customers shopping online. They used purchase history and browsing behaviour to send targeted promotions, discounts, and product recommendations to customers, which in turn, improved customer engagement and boosted post-pandemic sales.
Sustainability & Ethics
In a landscape where consumers’ focus on ethical consumption remains steadfast, embracing a sustainable and eco-friendly approach has become somewhat of a non-negotiable in not only the DIY & Housewares sector, but across various other industries.
IKEA, the Scandinavian ready-to-assemble furniture chain, is a prime example of this transformation. Previously plagued by controversy, IKEA has recently made significant strides towards becoming an eco-conscious company.
IKEA plans on achieving its ambitious goals by reducing plastics, utilising more sustainable materials, reducing packaging waste and continuing their campaign that allows customers to donate old furniture to make new pieces.
In February this year, the brand also released its sustainability and climate report detailing its plans to reduce its climate footprint and significantly increase the use of renewable energy. The Swedish retailer says it will address emissions across its supply chain and operations, from factories to transport, and target the impact of its roughly 460 stores. The company plans to increase the share of renewable energy in its supply chain, targeting 100% renewable energy in its production by the end of the decade.
Lewis Millican highlights that, “By investing in these initiatives, IKEA has not simply relied on a strategy of convenience and cost-efficiency, it has also successfully aligned itself with the current values of conscious consumers. The brand’s commitment to sustainability not only drives sales but does a good job at positioning IKEA as a brand that stands for more than just function.“
Partnerships & Collaborations
In the wake of the pandemic, various brands in the DIY and homewares sector have recognised the value of strategic collaborations to fuel sales and elevate their market presence. The result? A wave of partnerships that bring together innovation, expertise, and consumer appeal, driving a new era of growth in the industry.
On the 16th of August, George at Asda announced it has signed a new, exclusive collaboration with English singer and TV personality, Stacey Solomon. With an impressive following of over 5.7 million on Instagram, with whom she keenly shares her DIY and home improvement tips with, Stacey Solomon is in an ideal position to influence George Home’s target audience and affirm the brand as a key destination in the home interiors market.
When asked his thoughts on partnerships and collaborations in the industry, Lewis commented that, “influencer partnerships like the George x Stacey Solomon partnership have become increasingly popular within the DIY and Homewares sector. Influencers, celebrity or not, have the ability to showcase real life applications of DIY and home improvement products, and this really resonates with a niche target audience.“
According to a report conducted by The Social Shepherd in July this year, 61% of consumers trust influencer’s recommendations, meanwhile only 38% trusted branded social media content. Within this, working with influencers is simply unparalleled among younger consumers, as when looking for design inspiration in the planning of a room, nearly half of consumers aged 16 to 34 years old look to social media as the top source of influence for this age band.
With the above in mind, the partnership between George at Asda and Stacey could open the doors to new audiences, increase the brand visibility, and attract customers who may not have been previously exposed to the brand prior to the pandemic.
Another brand that has harnessed the power of partnerships is The Home Depot. The multi-national home improvements retailer has recently partnered with business intelligence company, Morning Consult to complete a survey which sampled recent homeowners or potential homebuyers born between 1981 and 2005.
The survey found that 53% of the millennials asked reported worries about purchasing their first home. In response, The Home Depot has launched the ‘New Homeowners Hub’, which aims to equip the next generation of current and future first-time homeowners with valuable resources including DIY guides, product recommendations, design inspiration and more.
Commenting on The Home Depot’s latest venture, Lewis states that “By recognising the specific hurdles millennials are up against, The Home Depot isn’t just demonstrating its dedication to keeping customers content; it’s also putting its brand on the same wavelength as a generation venturing into homeownership during these challenging post-pandemic times.”
Who’s Dominating and who’s Challenging?
As the DIY & Housewares industry undergoes transformation, it’s crucial to acknowledge the legacy brands that have played pivotal roles in shaping its trajectory. Giants like Kingfisher, IKEA, Wayfair, The Home Depot, and Lowe’s – to name a few – have helped set industry standards and inspire new players.
Below, Lewis highlights some of the brands that are making big waves in the industry right now.
Lick Paint is a London-based paint company founded in 2019 by Lucas London and Sam Bradley.
Launched with a fresh perspective, Lick Paint aims to disrupt the traditional paint-buying experience by offering a curated collection of paint colours and an online platform that simplifies the process of selecting and purchasing paint. Also, at a time when sustainability is paramount, the B-Corp certified brand’s paint is water-based, low in volatile organic compounds and their packaging is bio-degradable.
In 2021, Lick’s success prompted expansion beyond the UK into the United States, marking a significant milestone in their growth journey and making quality paint accessible to a global audience.
Lick Paint recently made headlines with an exciting collaboration, joining forces with The Kraft Heinz Company’s iconic Tomato Ketchup to introduce a ‘world-first’ opportunity. The Lick x Heinz partnership allows decorators and ketchup superfans alike to paint their homes in the vibrant ketchup red, aptly named Red HTK 57.
The limited-edition paint shade is exclusively available for a short time, with only 570 tins made-to-order via Lick’s website. This innovative partnership between Lick and Heinz brings together two passionate and distinct fan bases, poised to generate significant interest, elevate Lick’s brand visibility, and potentially drive increased sales.
Sleep tech firm, Simba Mattresses, a prominent player in the DIY & Housewares industry has been steadily climbing the ladder at a time in which many of their competitors have found increasingly challenging.
Even after consumer confidence fell in March 2022, Simba doubled their 2019 sales, demonstrating just how robust their business model and trading performance is. Last year, the brand also introduced the GO (Green Organic) mattress, as part of their drive for more sustainable sleep.
Commenting on the importance of sustainability at Simba, Co-founder and CEO Steve Reid told Furniture News, “Our ‘Health, People, Planet’ pillars put health, sustainability, and people at the centre of everything we do, and sustainability is a key pillar – not because it’s popular, but because we have a moral responsibility to uphold it.”
“That said, more consumers are making an informed choice with their sleep purchase. So, our mattresses are made in the UK, 100% recyclable, and we have a zero-to-landfill policy – all considerations at the point of purchase.”
Simba has also committed to making a conscious effort to offer more affordable and accessible price points for customers, as the cost-of-living crisis forces many to ditch their tool belt to tighten their financial belt. The retailer has extended their payment options from 12 months to 48, and now offer responsible lending in partnership with Novuna Consumer Finance.
Gorilla Glue is another brand that has been steadily ascending in the industry in recent years. Founded in the US, Gorilla Glue has quickly gained a solid reputation for its high-performance adhesives that can be used on virtually any material (although we don’t recommend using it as hair gel…).
At the core of Gorilla Glue’s success is its commitment to product quality. Recently, Gorilla Glue placed number one in a test titled ‘The Best Wood Glues Tested in 2023’, conducted by DIY enthusiast Bob Vila. And in January 2023, the brand released three new products designed to appeal to customers who are passionate about DIY but favour easy application. Their Gorilla Grab Adhesive can be used without the need for a cartridge gun, making it an ideal product for those tackling large DIY projects who may be overwhelmed by using a gun.
As consumers seek convenient solutions for their DIY endeavours, Gorilla Glue’s offerings simplify the process, making it more accessible and less intimidating for both experienced DIY enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
In doing so, the brand has not only secured its place in the post-pandemic DIY landscape, but also contributed to the wave of home improvement enthusiasts looking to transform their living spaces.
What Does the Future Hold for the Industry?
As consumer behaviours undergo continuous evolution, it’s evident that the brands taking proactive steps to transform, adapt, and embrace innovation will likely emerge as the industry’s future leaders.
Among the most remarkable catalysts of this transformation is technology, and its influence extends even to the DIY sector.
Brands in the DIY & Housewares sector are increasingly focusing on their digital offering. They’re enhancing their websites, optimising for mobile devices, and utilising e-commerce platforms to make it easy for customers to browse and purchase products online. However, it doesn’t stop there…
As our featured industry expert rightly puts it “The integration of smart home technology has become a hallmark of the modern DIY & Housewares sector,”
“Think smart thermostats, lighting systems, security cameras, and voice-activated assistants. It’s all about efficiency and convenience. Artificial intelligence and automation will also play a more significant role in the industry, with more brands utilising AI-powered tools to provide personalised project recommendations and automation to ultimately achieve more efficient and precise manufacturing processes.” comments, Lewis.
Lewis also added that customers may also see more brands utilising Augmented Reality in the future. Apps and platforms like IKEA Place already allow its users to visualise how furniture and décor items will look in their space before making a purchase. Features like these not only replicate the in-store experience but they also empower customers to make informed purchase decisions from the comfort of their homes, contributing to sustained sales even as growth rates stabilise.
“Not to mention, as environmental concerns continue to grow, technology will also play a vital role in promoting sustainability in the DIY & Housewares sectors.” Lewis observes.
“Which could even go beyond the development of eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient products, and apps that calculate the environmental impact of home improvement projects.“
So, as the initial surge in home improvement starts to level off, it’s clear to see that the industry faces a new landscape where innovation is the key to maintaining momentum. Consumer-centric innovation has taken centre stage, the importance of personalisation and customisability has surged, sustainability and ethics have become non-negotiable in the industry, and partnerships and collaborations have also played a significant role in driving industry growth. Today, the DIY & Housewares industry remains vibrant and full of opportunities for brands that are willing to adapt, innovate, and prioritise the needs of their customers.
If you’d like to speak with our dedicated team of specialist DIY & Housewares consultants, get in touch today via email@example.com or via +44 (0)191 691 1949.
With global revenue over $571 billion US dollars and trending upwards, health & beauty has proven to be a resilient and dynamic sector.
Able to reshape itself around expanding innovations, shifting consumer demands, and intensifying competition, it takes a keen eye and expert knowledge to navigate this ever-evolving industry.
In an exclusive interview, MacGregor Black’s global health & beauty specialist, Kriisti Atherton, sits down with Jennifer Carlsson, the beauty brand expert and Founder of market research business, Mintoiro to delve into her journey, her expertise, and what makes her such a sought-after figure in the industry.
Kriisti Atherton: So, Jennifer, for those who haven’t come across your profile yet, can you introduce yourself and tell us what makes you the ‘Beauty Brand Expert’?
Jennifer: Oh wow, where do I start?
Well, my name is Jennifer Carlsson, I’m a 30-year-old beauty brand strategy consultant, data analyst and designer from Stockholm.
I’m also the founder of my own professional services business, Mintoiro, and I launched the Beauty Design Awards in 2020.
At Mintoiro, I work closely with independently owned beauty brands to help them get loved by the people that care, and take market share from big corporations…
At the moment, I spend most of my time doing competitive market research, which I love, and it also helps be inform the consulting work I do.
I guess a lot of people might also know me from LinkedIn. Every month I post updated lists of the ‘Top 100 Brands Trending on Instagram’ across skincare, makeup, haircare, and fragrance. Those I’ve been posting for a few years now.
What makes me the beauty brand expert? Hmm, since I’m constantly doing research, I’d say I probably know more about beauty brands than anyone else. I’m not claiming to know more about the industry than anyone else, of course, but on brands specifically, I know what I’m talking about.
I always say that I’m an information sponge. I want to know everything about everything, I want to understand every aspect of the beauty industry and exactly how everything works.
I’m always talking to people in all parts of the industry’s value chain, and I learn so much from those conversations. But when I think of what really makes me an expert, I think of a quote that one of my mentors, Errol Gerson used to say… ‘the main thing is keeping the main thing the main thing’. You’ve got to do one thing well and focus on one thing at a time, because if you’re trying to do two different things at 50/50, you’re never really doing anything at 100, and how could you gain that expertise? Beauty is my main thing and I’m always giving it 100.
Kriisti Atherton: So why is Beauty in particular an industry you’re so passionate about?
Jennifer: I mean, I’ve always been into fashion and makeup. I really love the industry; I love the people I get to chat with, and coming from a design background, the creativity in the beauty industry just speaks to me.
In my early 20’s, I used to be a fashion blogger. My main focus was cute Japanese street styles and I was quite well known in that scene.
When I initially started my own business, I decided I was going to do design, so when the time came to launch Mintoiro, it just made sense to design for Beauty Brands. For my first year in business I was mainly doing brand identity and packaging design for cosmetics brands.
Kriisti Atherton: You mentioned earlier that you spend a lot of your time compiling market research for your clients. Can you talk us through your process?
Jennifer: There’s lots of different parts that go into it.
I’m constantly adding more to my database, most of which is gathered through manual data entry. This is time consuming but really beneficial because, coupled with my eidetic memory, it gives me a good overview of everything that’s in my database. The only exception to this is social media metrics, I update this every month, but I use a scraping tool to gather that data and automatically import it to my database.
For my ‘Top 100 Trending Brands’ lists, the way I rank companies is completely data driven and based on followers, engagement, and growth over time. This is important because it’s not interesting to look at what brands have the most followers; I try to capture which brands are steadily growing whilst maintaining an engaged audience.
I also look at the products that brands are launching, their ethics, certifications, which markets they’re in, their target audience and who owns the brand. I have so much fun doing the research, some people find it boring, but I just love it.
Each report can take several months to complete, and when it’s done, it’s really exciting to be able to see all the patterns emerging in the industry.
I’ve recently finished a report on emerging colour trends for beauty brands, which was grounded in tons of data analysis, but presented it in a really visual way. I looked at the latest colour trends in beauty product packaging, and as part of the research, I tagged the exact colour shades of over 16,000 products from over 3,500 different beauty brands. I then split the 35 trend colours I identified into 7 different colour moods.
I also tagged the colours of around 4,000 runways looks from the 2023 Spring and 2023 Fall collections, as well as looking interior design, sneakers and other adjacent industries, as you tend to see a lot of overlapping trends across different industries.
It takes so much time to do this research. Straight up, it just takes so much time. I don’t have a secret thing that gathers it all super quickly for me, I’m doing data entry pretty much all the time. But I really enjoy doing the market research side of things, so the time it takes isn’t a problem for me.
Kriisti Atherton: Your audience is really engaged with your content, including myself and a number of my clients. But from your perspective, why do you think it is that so many brands choose to work with you in particular?
Jennifer: I’m very interested and engaged in the beauty industry specifically.
When I’m researching, I look at brands from a holistic perspective because you can’t get a full picture of what’s actually going on in the industry from just looking at quantitative data.
I talk to all kinds of people in the industry, I look at visual aesthetics and I also try on a ton of products from a range of different brands, which gives me another type of data to add to my holistic view of the industry. Fortunately, lots of brands send me their products to try, even some that I wouldn’t typically be able to buy myself because they don’t usually ship to my location.
I’d say I also have a really good overview of everything going on in the industry so, if you want to understand your competitors and how you can differentiate your beauty brand; I’m the person to talk to.
For the brands that may not have the budget to fund a huge research project, I also offer pre-made research reports on my website, because I want to make my research affordable for beauty brands at all different stages of their growth cycle.
Kriisti Atherton: You recently attended the Clean Beauty in London event and gave a fantastic speech on ‘The Latest Trends in Sustainable & Conscious Beauty’, what were the key trends you identified?
Jennifer: My talk at Clean Beauty in London mainly focused on brands doing sustainability the right way to show that doing better is possible. That’s something I care about deeply and I’m well-read on the subject.
I find it shocking how much greenwashing is going on in the beauty industry, particularly around the use of plastic. I’m not a purist, I’m not saying that brands can’t use any plastic, but I think they should be honest about the fact that plastic is not sustainable, right? Brands should be truthful and tell their consumers that “we choose to use plastic packaging to be able to offer our products at an affordable price point”, which could up the conversation for consumers to tell the brands “we would pay more for your products if you stop using plastic packaging”. But if consumers are being led to believe these products are already sustainable, then the brand can’t really have those conversations.
People are getting really tired of the greenwashing and sooner or later, they’re just flat out not going to accept it. For example, using biofuel or fossil fuel doesn’t make much of a difference. Turning either into plastic causes just as much pollution and people based near plastic plants are getting sick from the chemicals.
In Mississippi, there’s a stretch of land where over two hundred petrochemical production plants are based, and people call the area ‘Cancer Alley’. When you look at the whole picture like that, you start to realise the bigger issues and how necessary it is that we as an industry approach them.
Kriisti Atherton: As well as a more focused approach towards sustainability, what other trends have you noticed shaping the beauty industry?
Jennifer: Well, I’d say a lot of beauty brands are rethinking the way they approach marketing.
I’ve heard a lot of brands saying that they’re not getting as much return on their ad spending, which I think will see a lot of companies exploring alternative options. I mean, to see a good return on paid advertising, brands should really be spending at least 25K a month on it, and honestly, if a brand has that much to spend, I’d say they’re better off using it elsewhere.
My advice would be to take that money and spend it building partnerships with more influencers, I think the optics of that is way better than just throwing money at ads. Especially if you’re working with influencers that aren’t that big yet, and have a targeted beauty audience, because they produce genuine content that’s real and honest. And if you’re a brand that’s aiming for transparency, this fits well with that goal. Plus, you’re giving money back to hard-working, diverse content creators in the community.
Although, I’d say that if brands go down the influencer route, they need to do it right. I’ve heard some horror stories about beauty brands paying marginalized influencers less than their other influencers, which is just unacceptable. Aside from the fact it’s totally wrong, it’s also likely to hurt your brand’s reputation as people in the beauty industry talk to each other and these things always come out before long.
So, yeah, doing things right is super important, people don’t want to buy from brands that don’t.
Kriisti Atherton: I’ve combed through pretty much every inch of your blog by now and I’m always recommending it to others. In addition to your own, which other blogs/publications would you recommend for beauty fans to check out?
On the podcast, Akash interviews beauty founders and entrepreneurs about their business journeys. It’s extremely insightful and it’s a great podcast for people who really want to understand the industry.
Kriisti Atherton: And Jennifer, as The Beauty Brand Expert, which brands should our audience be keeping an eye on right now?
Jennifer: Oh, wow, that’s hard to say. There are loads of really great brands out there.
They’re a haircare brand that does shampoo and conditioner bars. I’ve tried a lot of products like this and theirs is the best on the market.
They mostly work with smaller refill stores, and they don’t spend anything on advertising, their brand is spread entirely by word-of-mouth. I think that’s so interesting. Plus, they’re really inclusive, they don’t do different bars for different hair types, they’ve made sure their product can be used by anyone, you just pick the scent you like.
Also, a Swedish brand that I’m really liking at the moment is Manasi 7. I’ve been using their products recently; they have a cheek and lip tint that I actually use for both my lips and cheeks. I also really like their branding. In Sweden, there’s a big market for minimalistic designed brands with a very specific look to them, and these guys have nailed it.
Oh, I’m also really fascinated with exploring the Indonesian beauty market at the moment. They have some really cool looking brands with great formulations. They look like luxury brands that could be sold in Sephora. A good example to check out is the brand Dew It Skin. I love their products.
Kriisti Atherton: You’ve given us some great insight into your expertise and what you’re doing as The Beauty Brand Expert right now. What’s next on the cards for you and your business?
Jennifer: My biggest focus in 2023 is creating the research reports that I sell through my website.
I find the work very satisfying and enjoyable, and creating my own reports allows for me to put all my strong sides to use.I have a few different types of reports in the pipeline and I’m excited to reveal and share them with everyone soon!
I’m also doing Beauty Design Awards for the fourth year running. The award is completely free, and brands are welcome to submit their products for consideration until the end of August. You can find more information on the website, beautydesignawards.com.
The award looks at the holistic experience of a product, so both packaging and formulation are just as important.
Kriisti Atherton: Jennifer, thank you so much for your time today and we look forward to seeing yours and Mintoiro’s success in 2023 and beyond.
Evolving from small medieval distilleries into the colossal $88 billion dollar industry that it is today, the story of whisky is one founded on tradition, revolution, and a thirst for innovation.
So, in honor of World Whisky Day, MacGregor Black explores the murky origins of whisky, the art of distilling, and the factors that fueled the rise of one of the world’s most popular spirits.
Where Did Whisky Come From?
Whisky’s history dates back hundreds of years. Which means, unfortunately, there are a number of theories as to where exactly the fiery golden liquid originates from.
Some academics argue that the ancestor to modern whisky was first discovered by Irish, Scottish, and English farmers, who began distilling spirits from their surplus grains. Although, a more favoured theory suggests that missionary monks brought the art of distillation over to the UK over a thousand years ago having mastered the practice on their travels across the Mediterranean, the Middle East and mainland Europe.
If we turn to the pages of history, we find the first ever written evidence of whisky appears as early as 1405, in the Irish Annals of Clonmacnoise. Here it was documented that the head of a clan died from ‘taking a surfeit of ‘aqua vitea’. However, the earliest historical reference to whisky appears a little later down the line, in the Scottish Exchequer Rolls of 1494 where an entry refers to King James IV of Scotland granting ‘eight bolls of malt to Friar John Cor wherewith to make aqua vitae’.
Aqua vitea, a term historically used to describe distilled spirits, is a Latin term meaning ‘water of life’. When translated from Latin to Gaelic, ‘aqua vitea’ became ‘uisge beatha’, which over the years, eventually evolved into the word ‘whisky’ that we know and love today.
Whisky Production & The Art of Distillation
Whisky, like all of its spirit counterparts, is made using distillation. A complex practice that dates back as far as the 1st century BC and research suggests originates from ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, where early practitioners first used the process to create a mix of potent perfumes and aromas.
However, thanks to the global migration of knowledge and through the adaptation of ingredients & techniques, over time, alchemists refined and expanded distillation beyond perfumes to include medicines, poisons and of course, whisky.
One such factor that fanned the flames of mass whisky production took place in 1536, when Henry VIII broke ties with the Roman Church and disbanded many of the English monasteries. Prior to this point, distilling spirits remained largely a monastic and medical practice, but with so many unemployed Monks dispersed into the general population at the time, the art of distilling spirits quickly made its way into homes and farms, and the general production of whisky shifted into the hands of the people.
The increasing popularity of whisky would soon attract Scottish Parliament, where plans to profit from the growing industry, saw the introduction of the first taxes on whisky, in 1644. However, in protest, many Scots turned to illicit distilling in an attempt to avoid the high taxes. By the 1820s, as many as 14,000 illicit stills were being confiscated every year, and more than half the whisky consumed in Scotland was being enjoyed without the taxman taking his cut.
However, in 1823, the Excise Act was passed, which allowed Scots to distil whisky in return for a license fee of £10 and Illicit distilling and smuggling eventually died out.
With restrictions lifted for the import and export of commercial whisky, this incentivised people to grow barley and licensed distilleries began emerging in all corners of the Scottish lands. With a license now required, the process of distilling whisky became more refined and eventually upped the quality of the product. From here, whisky gradually gained worldwide popularity, becoming a talisman of heritage, craftmanship and cultural identity for the regions it was produced in.
In the early days of whisky production, the process was relatively simple. Grains were mashed, fermented using yeast, and the resulting liquid was then distilled. Following distillation, the liquid was aged in wooden casks for several years, providing it with the unique characteristics, colour, and flavours that whisky is known for today.
In the modern era, the fundamentals of whisky making remain largely unchanged. Grains are still mashed, fermented, and distilled, and whisky is still aged in wooden casks. However, over the centuries, advancements in innovation and technology, as well as the introduction of advanced aging and maturation processes have birthed a new age of whisky production.
In the 18th and 19th century, the industrial revolution brought significant advancements to the field. Namely, the invention of the column still in 1830, by Aneas Coffey, which revolutionised distillation and paved the way for large-scale whisky production. Today, distillation has transcended its traditional ties to spirits and is now a crucial process in various other industries including, the production of fuels, petroleum refining, essential oils, pharmaceuticals, and even water purification. Proving that distillation has played, and will continue to play, an essential role in the advancement of human society… not to mention good quality spirits.
Whisky or Whiskey…
The terms, whisky and whiskey are often used interchangeably, causing quite a bit of confusion amongst connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. However, there are a number of distinct differences in their production methods, geographical origins, and their unique flavour profiles.
Whisky (without an e, and the starring spirit of this article) typically refers to whisky produced in Scotland and is often dubbed, Scotch whisky. Scottish distilling largely inspired the production of whisky in countries like Japan and Canada, explaining why both countries also use the ‘without an e’ spelling of whisky.
Scotch whisky has some pretty stern regulations when it comes to what can actually be labelled as a true Scotch Whisky. It must be made from malted barley, water, and yeast, and must be distilled in Scotland for at least three years. Scotch whisky is also well-known for its range of rich and smoky flavours, which can be attributed to the use of peat in the malting process.
However, recent research found that peat releases an excessive amount of stored carbon dioxide when harvested and is currently under some scrutiny for its potential contribution to climate change. The Scottish Government has since drawn plans to move away from using peat products in the future, thus protecting the environment, and ensuring no further damage to the peatlands.
Whiskey, on the other hand, is the preferred spelling of grain spirits that have been distilled in Ireland and the United States.
As Irish colonists began to arrive in America, they brought with them the process of distilling grain spirits and from that moment onwards, whiskey was born.
American whiskey encompasses various styles, including bourbon, rye whiskey and Tennessee whiskey, all of which are distilled in different ways, using different ingredients and under strict legal regulations specific to America. For example, similar to Scotch, for a bourbon whiskey to officially labelled as a bourbon whiskey, it must be distilled in America and at no higher than 160 proof, 80% alcohol-by-volume.
Brands to watch…
As the world of whisky continues to evolve, and an increasing number of individuals embrace the charm and cultural complexities of this cherished spirit, certain brands have emerged as rising stars in the industry. MacGregor Black caught up with award-winning mixologist and drinks practice operations consultant, Kieron Hall, to gauge which brands are gaining popularity and the reasons behind their rise.
Nc’nean Distillery is a young, independent, organic whisky distillery perched above the Sound of Mull in the remote community of Drimnin on the west coast of Scotland. Declaring their main purpose to be “creating experimental spirits, and pioneering sustainable production”, Nc’nean Distillery aims to really get people thinking about Scotch.
“Nc’nean Distillery is a favourite brand of mine for a number of reasons, I think they’ve just hit the mark with everything a brand needs to be in today’s economy,” comments, Kieron.
“The brand is constantly looking at ways to shake-up the traditional Scotch market and improve their impact on the planet. Like, using organic Scottish barley at their distillery, which is powered by renewable energy, as well as recycling 99.97% of their waste, and making all of their bottles out of 100% recycled clear glass. Not to mention,
I think the quality of their product is brilliant, particularly their Organic Single Malt Whisky.
If you haven’t checked out Nc’nean yet, you definitely should!”
InchDairnie Distillery, based in Fife, Scotland, pride themselves on their origins, whisky traditions, and their ability to take an innovative approach to flavour. Their distillery uses only barley that has been grown locally in Fife and they operate using two bespoke pieces of equipment; a Mash Filter and Lomond Hill Still, both used for experimentation and innovation.
Kieron Hall comments, “InchDairnie opened in 2015 and they literally built the whole distillery around their mash filter. Their bespoke methods to whisky production means that they can handle a variety of different grains and can extract more flavour and sugar during the process.
Every year, the brand clears two weeks in their calendar to distil something ‘out of the ordinary’ which most recently saw the distillery make their way to ‘the dark side’, being the first to distil a mash made from a majority of Dark Kilned Malted Spring Barley, which is usually used to brew dark beers.
A great drink and I suspect a great deal of innovation to come from InchDairnie in the near future.”
Ellers Farm Distillery
Based in North Yorkshire, Ellers Farm Distillery’s state-of-the-art production ranks as one of the largest distilleries in the country. The brand prides itself on being carbon neutral since day one of its operations, with further plans to achieve official B Corp certification. Ellers Farm Distillery has also partnered with Bristol based environmental organisation, Ecologi with the aim of planting one million trees.
“Ellers Farm is a classic,” says Kieron Hall.
“My colleague, Dana Bond and I recently visited the famous Ellers Farm Distillery and toured their site. After hearing some of their ambitious environmental goals and their plans for the future, we were pretty impressed.
Not only do they distil whisky, but they also produce vodka, gin and a range of small batch spirits that are only released in batches of 500 bottles. Ellers Farm will surely continue to lead the charge when it comes to sustainability, NPD and of course, great quality spirits.”
Kieron also comments about the “up and coming challenger brands” stating that:
“There are so many brands that deserved a mention, with many up-and-coming challenger brands also making big moves in the world of whisky right now, such as, Wolfburn, Milk & Honey, Mackmyra and Stauning Whisky to name a few.”
“It’s an exciting time to be a whisky lover as we have front row seats to watch a wave of new brands redefine the landscape of whisky.”
Whether it’s neat, on the rocks, or mixed into a complex cocktail, whisky clearly has a rich history of being beloved by many, throughout the centuries. From the rolling hills of Scotland to the bourbon-soaked barrels of Kentucky, the production methods, legal regulations, and geographical influences have shaped the unique identity of whisky.
With each sip, we embark on a sensory journey of tradition, rebellion, and innovation, connecting us to a rich, yet murky, history of one of the world’s most beloved spirits.
So, if you’re a complete connoisseur, a beloved bourbon fan or an avid enthusiast, join us on World Whisky Day 2023 to appreciate the deep and remarkable world of whisky.
Case Study, Consumer, Industry, Insight, Retail, Technology
Posted on 24 April 2023
From a global pandemic to rising geopolitical tensions, the supply chain industry has faced numerous challenges, and as we edge further into 2023, the sector finds itself at a crossroads.
The need for speed, strategy, and resilience has rapidly fueled innovation, and more businesses are leveraging the latest in automation technology to make faster, smarter decisions with more accuracy than ever before.
But what exactly is Supply Chain automation? And where is it leading us?
MacGregor Black explores the latest advancements in supply chain automation, and which key technologies are reshaping the industry’s future.
What is Automation?
Over the years, the main goal of the supply chain industry has remained unchanged. To deliver products to the right place, at the right time. Yet, to thrive in today’s competitive economy, a business must ensure constant availability, rapid delivery time, and the mailability to overcome unexpected changes.
This is where automation steps in.
Automation describes the use of technology to complete tasks that would traditionally require physical human interaction. Processes that would usually cost a gross amount of time, money, and labour can now be completed quickly and effectively using a combination of artificial intelligence and advanced robotics.
From Human Hands to Robotic Arms
Evolving from their first appearance in sci-fi movies into today’s supply chains, the use of robotics in the warehouse has become increasingly popular in recent years. Businesses in all corners of the world are transforming the way they manage their supply chains by investing in advanced technologies such as autonomous mobile robots, collaborative robots and even drones, in the pursuit of efficiency.
Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR)
Autonomous mobile robots (AMR) are self-guided machines that, using a combination of sensors and algorithms, navigate safely around the warehouse moving goods from one place to another, locate and retrieve items and even pick, pack, and ship products at ultra speed. As the demand for faster and more efficient supply chain processes grows, AMRs are becoming an increasingly attractive solution for businesses looking to scale up faster, increase their operational efficiency, and reduce labour costs in this post-pandemic economy (as after all, robots can’t catch a virus…).
According to this year’s Global Autonomous Mobile Robots Market Report, in 2022, the market for autonomous mobile robots totalled at $3.14 million US dollars. A figure that is predicted to rise as high as $10.97 million US dollars by 2030. By taking over potentially dangerous jobs from humans, AMRs allow for cheaper labour costs, greater workforce adaptability, improved safety standards, and reduced risks. Nestle, DHL and Walmart are among the many high-profile brands that are already investing in AMR’s, with all three companies having rolled out driverless forklifts across their warehouses in 2022.
However, while progress is being made, “there are still a number of natural factors at play,” States Mark Lancaster, MacGregor Black’s Supply Chain & Logistics specialist.
“Whilst AMRs are designed to operate autonomously, they do still pose a risk to human workers if not properly programmed or maintained. As well as investing in skilled automation specialists to safely maintain the equipment, employers may also need to consider re-training existing workers on how to interact with AMRs in order to avoid accidents and injuries.”
Unlike AMRs, Collaborative Robots (also referred to as Cobots) work along-side humans, rather than replacing them. Designed to be safe, simple to use and adaptable to varied processes, Cobots assist humans in performing repetitive or dangerous tasks to speed up production and avoid potential risks. UK retailer, Curry’s recently revealed its plans to invest £250,000 in Cobots at its facility in Newark, which will fund a fleet of robotic exoskeletons designed to give employees at the retailer’s logistics partner, GXO, relief from at least ten tones of weight throughout a typical working shift.
Another example of a brand investing in Cobots is the multinational information technology company, HP. In 2017, the Silicon Valley based brand opened a robotics manufacturing facility in Singapore; the country ranked second in the world for the number of robots deployed for every 10,000 employees. The facility utilises intelligent robotic arms that precisely emulate a human hand’s intricate movements in order to make a core component in HP’s commercial printers. The arm’s dexterity allows it to take on complex tasks, with acute precision, for 24 hours a day. HP said, since installing its robotics manufacturing lines in Singapore, production costs have dropped by 20%. A quite staggering saving in a world currently grappling with the lingering effects of the pandemic, high inflation, and geopolitical tensions.
However, replicating HP’s harmonious relationship with robotics isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. A successful shift into automation requires an immense, up-front capital investment, not only in technology but in the skills of the workforce. At HP, they have invested heavily in upskilling their employees, who verify parts rejected by the robots on the manufacturing line to help teach the machine and perfect the algorithm. Singapore itself has also long identified advanced manufacturing as a priority, with the country even introducing incentives such as tax breaks for highly automated factories, research partnerships with universities and subsided programmes aimed at retraining and upskilling workers.
According to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, the average warehouse worker wastes nearly seven weeks per year in unnecessary motion, accounting for more than $4.3 billion US dollars in labour. A statistic that many businesses are now able to disregard following the introduction of intelligent autonomous drones into their supply chain.
Without the need for ladders or scaffolding, and in turn without the resulting risks, drones are used to track, transport and audit goods, with the data being stored digitally on a computer-based software programme. Drones are mainly used to help with inventory management and can be found flying around the warehouse scanning bar codes on products, auditing inventory levels, and comparing the data it collects with the data stored digitally. Swedish retail giant, IKEA is among the latest brands exploring technological solutions, revealing it has expanded its autonomous fleet of drones to 100 across 16 locations in Belgium, Croatia, Slovenia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.
Developed in partnership with Zurch-based startup, Verity, IKEA’s drones are deployed during non-operational hours, working to ensure stock levels are accurate, and offering real-time analytics. Introducing drones and other autonomous technologies in the warehouse may seem nerving for some, but “Introducing drones and other advanced tools — for example, robots for picking up goods — is a genuine win-win for everybody.” States, Tolga Öncu of Dutch IKEA holding company INGKA.
“It improves our co-workers’ well-being, lowers operational costs and allows us to become more affordable and convenient for our customers.”
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Typical supply chain management is labour intensive, time consuming and prone to human error, which is why many businesses are utilising artificial intelligence in their supply chains.
Artificial intelligence is used in supply chains to analyse data, track the flow of goods, and centralise information sharing with suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. The main goal being to streamline the entire end-to-end supply chain process and routinely look for ways to improve efficiency.
MacGregor Black’s Engineering & Operations specialist, Rob Blackburn explains that “AI tightly links together the business value chain, from manufacturing to the end consumer, and accurately forecasts customer demands to produce real-time analytics on a company’s entire supply chain performance.”
“The AI detects data patterns and recommends improvements such as, shorter walking times and smarter inventory positioning. Over time, the AI will even learn from its environment and perfect its own algorithm to ensure the warehouse is performing to maximum efficiency.”
One of the most beneficial features of AI is its ability to trigger automated responses to pre-defined scenarios. By communicating with the various internal data systems, AMRs and Cobots deployed at the warehouse, the AI can automatically respond to situations like a depletion in stock, a rise in market prices or a shift in consumer demand. For example, should the business run out of stock, their AI can automatically order more. Or should the market value of a product or raw material change, the AI can produce a detailed report advising the business on future procurement strategies.
This level of data-driven supply chain management reduces costs, mitigates risks, improves quality control, increases operational efficiency, and allows businesses to make informed analytical decisions, which in turn, improves the experience for the end customer.
It’s clear to see that automation has the potential to revolutionise the way warehouses operate. The latest developments in supply chain technology are creating exciting opportunities for businesses all over the world, which has raised a question in many of our minds, where does that leave humans? According to a report led by Oxford Economics, if the current rate of automation continues, 11.20 million manufacturing jobs will be lost to automation by 2030. Undeniably, certain occupations will become extinct in the battle between automation and tradition, however humans haven’t been totally eliminated from the race just yet. A report by the BBC suggested that the rise in automation will also boost the economy, predicting that 7.2 million specialist jobs will be created by 2037.
Automation is unarguably transforming the way businesses manage their supply chains. And as these technologies continue to evolve, the companies that will thrive will be those that are embracing the change. By taking full advantage of artificial intelligence and advanced robotics like drones, Cobots and AMRs, employers are able to maximise efficiency, improve safety and cut overall costs. However, automation technology requires immense planning and consideration, and if we’ve learned anything from sci-fi movie culture, this isn’t always the case…
If you’d like to speak with our dedicated team of Engineering & Supply Chain consultants, get in touch today via firstname.lastname@example.org or via +44 (0)191 691 1949.
Consumer, Cosmetics, Health & Beauty, Industry, Insight, Retail, Social Media, Sustainability, Technology
Posted on 20 February 2023
Currently valued at over $571billion, the beauty industry is a global superpower. A superpower not just growing, but also in the midst of a momentous change.
As consumer behaviour continues to evolve, technology, social media, and the Covid-19 pandemic are sculpting the industry’s evolution. Now more than ever, customers favour convenience over tradition, with many moving toward DIY, and away from salon treatments.
But what alternatives are out there? Are they effective? And are they here to stay?
MacGregor Black takes a closer look at the evolution of the global beauty industry, why consumers are opting for at-home alternatives, and which brands are delivering the best salon-quality products, right to your sofa.
Are Salons Set to Recover?
Nail, hair, and beauty salons we’re among the worst hit during the recent Covid-19 pandemic. Turnover fell by an average of 45%, social distancing limited footfall, and as a result full-time employment in the industry plunged a whopping 21%.
But with any change… comes opportunity.
The sudden starvation from years of habitual beauty routines, coupled with a severe drop in revenue, spurred on a burst of innovation across the industry. In 2021 alone, the beauty tech revenue rocketed to $3.8 billion, with a range of new and exciting products available. This new formed bond between beauty and technology opened up a world of opportunity for customer and creator alike. Modern self-applied beauty treatments have evolved far beyond at-home facials and DIY pedicures. Utilising a mixture of light emitting diode (LED), microcurrent technology and even augmented reality (AR), brands are now looking to rival salons with the launch of their own high-tech equipment, for at-home use.
Light Emitting Diode – LED
First discovered by NASA in the 90’s, LED lights were used to observe effects on plant growth in space. Noting it’s interesting healing abilities, the technology has since shown great promise, quickly gaining interest among health and beauty manufacturers.
LED light therapy exposes the skin to varied wavelengths of light such as, red, near infrared, yellow, green, and blue light. According to research, the red light stimulates collagen growth, while blue light targets bacteria that causes acne, green light can alter pigmentation, and yellow light can have strong healing qualities.
Research also suggests that LED treatments can prove effective when it comes to reducing the symptoms of aging or sun-damaged skin, as well as treating certain skin conditions such as acne and rosacea. When administered by a salon professional, the equipment they operate is usually significantly more powerful, with treatments often priced between £80-£100 per session.
In an effort to replicate the same results at home, health, and beauty brand, CurrentBody, have launched what they’ve dub the ‘Skin LED Light Therapy Mask’, a substantial looking piece of equipment that combines both red and near infrared light wavelengths to ‘kickstart your skin’s collagen production’. And it doesn’t stop there. CurrentBody have also incorporated the same LED technology in their ‘Skin LED Hair Regrowth Device’, which the beauty brand proudly declares will “penetrate deep under the skin’s surface for instant and long-lasting results”.
Therabody, MZ Skin and Dr Dennis Gross Skincare are brands that have also released LED light therapy devices, all of which featured in a recent edition of British Vogue, labelled ‘The Best LED Face Masks’. At a cost ranging from £100 to £600, depending on the manufacturer, those planning on reaping the benefits of LED Light therapy can have the potential to save both time and money. A growing focus across much of the NPD within the Consumer and Retail industries.
Hoping to wipe surgical facelifts off the map, microcurrent technology applies weak currents of electricity directly to the face in order to stimulate and tighten the muscles. The whole idea behind microcurrent technology is that it can be used to improve blood circulation and stimulate collagen production to give the face a youthful glow.
Kriisti Atherton, MacGregor Black’s Health & Beauty Specialist sat down with Hrvoje Sarac, Chief Operating Officer at wellness brand, Foreo, to learn more about their use of microcurrent technology in their range of increasingly popular products. The creators of the well-known ‘Foreo Bear’ and ‘Foreo Bear Mini’ pride themselves on ‘making self-care simple, easy, and enjoyable‘ with their range of effective, clinically tested devices.
“Microcurrent technology is something that’s been around in science for years,” Said Sarac.
“We haven’t invented this technology. All we’ve done is simply adapt it to fit in both your hand and your budget. The Bear and The Bear Mini are our best-selling products, and how they work is, the microcurrent and T Sonic massage feature boosts microcirculation and lymphatic drainage, which feeds nutrients to the skin cells and eliminates toxins.
Before we launched the products, tons of research went into ensuring we used the right frequency to really get the right results, and paired with our jelly serum that acts as a conductor, our customers now have everything they need to get that professional face-lifting result at home. So many people say that they can feel the difference even after just one use, but if you really want the best results then we definitely recommend using it daily. It’s like going to the gym, if you go once a week, you probably won’t see much of a difference, but going to the gym every day, you’re going to see the results.”
One of the most frequently asked questions consumers ask about microcurrent devices is, are they safe? Kriisti highlights this topic in her conversation with Foreo’s Hrvoje Sarac, who mentions the potential risks of using devices incorrectly and emphasises the need for safety.
“Customers should always read the instructions before using these products, as with some of them on the market right now, there is actually a risk of burning your skin if the devices are either made, or used incorrectly. What makes our products truly unique is our highly advanced Anti-Shock System that actually scans and measures the customer’s skin’s resistance to electricity, and automatically adjusts the microcurrent’s intensity to ensure it’s not too intense. The Bear in particular is the most effective, safe-to-use, microcurrent facial device available, and that’s clinically tested.“
Also on the list of beauty brands currently investing in microcurrent technology is, MyoLift, NuFace and Magnitone, having also released their own range of products designed for at home use.
No longer a futuristic feature in sci-fi movies, augmented reality has crept its way off the big screen and into our everyday lives.
In the world of health & beauty, it can allow customers the ability to virtually experiment with different looks in real time. AR has, in short, revolutionised the way many of us interact with our favourite brands and has personalised the way we experience their products. These advanced tools use facial recognition and AR technology to analyse customer’s skin tone, facial structure, and features to recommend cosmetics and skincare products in real-time. However, one AR feature proving widely popular amongst the younger generation has recently come under scrutiny…filters.
When first launched in 2015, filters (or ‘lenses’ as they were first referred to as) were primarily used for entertainment. Fast forward to today and social media platforms provide filters as an alternative to more permanent and costly alternatives. With options including enhancing their lips, lift their brows, change skin pigmentation, bone structure, eyes, lips, and the list goes on. All with just the click of a button. The numbers on the other hand suggest the opposite. Many plastic surgeons are reporting an increase in plastic surgery treatments, directly attributed the use of social media filters, giving a potential glimpse at a new you. Professionals have dubbed this social media surgery craze ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’, declaring that it could soon be an overwhelming problem amongst younger social media users.
As an expansive range of new at-home devices are being launched, beauty brands may perhaps look to combat this growing concern in a sustainable and ethical manner, guiding their customers down the path to safer alternatives.
With this task in mind, many beauty technology companies have strategically partnered with influencers and celebrities in a bid to aid the switch from salon to sofa. Through engaging posts, reels & stories, influencers, and celebrities aim to showcase the brand’s latest high-tech products to their followers, demonstrating that you don’t need a salon appointment to see salon-quality results.
As we can see, technology, social media, and a shift in consumer thinking have all left a significant imprint on the beauty industry’s exciting evolution. Whilst a global pandemic has transformed our collective focus, advancements In technology have all but accelerated innovation, resulting in a plethora of inventive, state-of-the-art beauty technology.
So, whilst there is little sign of us eliminating salons altogether, the rapidly growing amount of advanced at-home products have, without a doubt, birthed a new approach to beauty. Today, it’s LED light masks and microcurrent facial massagers, tomorrow, it’s endless possibilities…
If you’d like to speak to a specialist in our dedicated Health & Beauty practice, get in touch today via 0191 691 1949 or email us at email@example.com
As a wave of drinks brands look to innovate and evolve in a post-Covid world, consumers are often left wading through an overwhelming number of choices that currently flood the shelves of bars, restaurants, and supermarkets alike.
This sudden burst of quality spirits has birthed a highly competitive market, with one such brand, launching on the cusp of the global pandemic, having embraced the highs and lows of the unpredictable, yet exciting drinks industry.
Born out of a deep love for the Caribbean and a desire to shake up the rum category, this unique brand has gone above and beyond, voyaging across the oceans to bring us a range of quality, craft rums… with a twist.
MacGregor Black talks with Cleo Farman, Managing Director of award-winning drinks company, Diablesse Rum, about ‘savouring over sessioning’, breaking the sailor mold, and what the future holds for this ambitious brand.
MacGregor Black: So, Cleo, to someone who’s never come across Diablesse Rum before, how would you introduce the brand?
Cleo: Gosh, where do I start? First of all, I’m proud to say it’s the first female-owned rum brand in the UK (Yay!). Diablesse was born out of a HUGE appreciation for quality Caribbean rums, where people have distilled rum since the early 17th century and is where I think the best rums come from! The figurehead of the brand, the beautiful woman on the label, is La Diablesse, a mythical female enchantress character from Caribbean folklore. The purpose of the brand is to change people’s outdated perception of rum which still seems to be that it’s mega strong and quite samey flavours, if you know what I mean?
MacGregor Black: And why did you choose La Diablesse to represent the brand?
Cleo: Some of the best master distillers out there are women but unfortunately, you wouldn’t always know that. I wanted to get a bit more female representation in the industry, and I was lucky enough to come across Diablesse. She was a temptress that also stood for female empowerment and she’s of Caribbean descent so represents the heritage of the beautiful rums in the blends (and it would be a travesty to put anyone else on the label in my opinion), But, yeah, I thought her character sat well with the brand and what we stand for, which is that: Diablesse rum is a female forward inclusive rum brand, is flavour lead and is here to show people that there’s more to rum than they might think.
MacGregor Black: With so many spirits out there to work with, why did you choose to launch a rum brand?
Cleo: Basically, I used to be a gin drinker but, to be honest, I got a bit bored. And since I used to own four bars in Manchester, that gave me a really good platform to explore distinct categories of spirits and I discovered that I quite liked rum.
So, I went off to the Caribbean and looked at the distilleries there, met with loads of impressive people that knew a lot about rum and I really loved it. Ok, I’m going to be a nerd now, but my Diablesse Golden Rum is a blend of an eight-year-old double distilled rum from Barbados, a four-year-old copper pot still rum from Jamaica and a three-year-old rum that’s made in the only wooden column still in the whole world! It’s been really exciting working with all these lovely flavours and pairing them up to see what fits.
MacGregor Black: So, what exciting things do you have going on now at Diablesse Rum?
Cleo: Oh my gosh. Loads of things! So, right now I’m going through a major fundraise. There’s so much money involved in launching a spirit brand. I’ve put a lot of my own money into the brand because I believe in Diablesse and now that I’ve demonstrated, through a good sales record, that people like it and want to buy it, I’m now looking for investors to join me!
I’ve also got a new Marketing person starting with me soon who is working with me to put together quite an ambitious marketing plan. If we raise the money, we’ll be doing activations across the UK, attending festivals, and just working hard to get the brand message out there, really. Which is nerve-wracking but also super exciting!
Diablesse Rum is also going to be making an appearance at the Manchester Christmas markets this year, which is 41 days solid of talking about rum! I’ve put a team together and we’ll be there to spread the message and speak with anyone who’s interested in knowing more (and to give everyone a taste!) I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve got a stall at St Anne’s Square, and we’ll be there from the 10th of November, so come and see us!
MacGregor Black: What would you say your most ambitious goal is for the Diablesse Brand?
Cleo: I’d love to open a little distillery under the Diablesse brand, where I could experiment with creating more of my own small batch limited addition rums. I’d like to have a brand home at some point in the near future, where people can learn about the company, visit our in-house bar, and really get a feel for the complete Diablesse experience. And I’d also love to see Diablesse launch into the US and China, but not just yet.
But, having said all that, I’d say my most ambitious goal for the brand is, like I say, to change people’s opinion about rum entirely. In the UK, a lot of people still associate rum with the Navy and it’s seen as quite a male drink. You know, you’ve got many rums brands such as, Neptune Rum, Captain Morgan, or Sailor Jerry, but I wanted to do something a bit different. Bring a new light in and really shake up people’s perception of rum to see it as something that can be savoured, rather than chucked back with a coke mixer. ’Savour, not session’ is what I’m going for!
After building Diablesse here and abroad, one of my most ambitious personal goals is to launch into different spirits, but not under the Diablesse brand. Diablesse is so personal to rum and the Caribbean, so I don’t think another spirit would sit under that brand. I would probably look to get into white spirits, but not gin. There you go, there’s a clue… yeah, Gin is brilliant, it’s doing really well but not gin …. I’d like to keep away from that.
MacGregor Black: Having been there and done it, what advice would you offer someone looking to launch their own brand-new rum brand?
Cleo: Well, firstly I’d say do your homework! It takes a lot to get off the ground, there’s so many hoops you have to jump through for instance getting your licenses from HMRC. I even had people check my home to make sure I wasn’t some sort of dodgy rum dealer! For Diablesse, I store a lot of the rum under bond, which basically means I stored my rum in HMRC-operated warehouses and am only required to pay the Alcohol tax once I’ve taken a bottle out of the warehouse, rather than paying it all in one go. That has helped with cashflow immensely, but you have to get special government licenses to be able to do it and it can be quite difficult.
Secondly, I’d say be honest with your forecasting. It costs a lot more money than you’d ever think to get going, I learned that the hard way.
Another thing is, you’ve got to build your distribution. Once you’ve made your rum, how are people actually going to buy it? It’s not often that you can just walk into a bar and say, here, I have a rum, do you want to sell it? You need to work with wholesalers, which can be hard and takes a lot of time. I started out doing markets to push Diablesse out there and that’s how I met my wholesaler. I now have a distributor that sells to wholesalers, so I’ve gone about it that way.
Lastly, build a brand that means something. Don’t just think, ok, I want to make a rum because I want to make lots of money because people see right through that. people want to know who you are, what you’re about, what drives you and what drives the brand. For me, I really like rum and I’ve built the brand around a story that resonates with what I’m trying to achieve.
MacGregor Black: And finally, to round things off, which Diablesse drink would you recommend to newcomers?
Cleo: I’m sorry, but I love them all!
Well, I guess you could say my personal favourite is our Golden Rum with a ginger and lime mixer, but that’s not always to everyone’s taste, is it? So, I’d recommend trying the Clementine Spice Rum, paired with a Fever Tree Spiced Orange Ginger Ale mixer, or at this time of year, hot apple juice! I also really love the Diablesse Coconut & Hibiscus Flower Rum with Franklin’s Pineapple and Almond mixer. All of those are delicious and I drink them at home.
If you would like to speak with our specialist team of Drinks Consultants, or would like to discuss featuring in our next MB Talks, contact us on 0191 691 1949 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Advertising, Case Study, Consumer, Cosmetics, Fashion, Health & Beauty, Industry, Insight, Marketing, Retail, Social Media, Technology
Posted on 27 October 2022
When social media first popped up in the late 90’s, none of us could have predicted the astronomical growth it would undergo, nor the influence it would ultimately hold over our lives.
What began as a way to simply connect with friends, has since become one of the most powerful global platforms of our time, able to reach millions of targeted people in milliseconds and influence the way we shop, vote, and even feel. Evolving far beyond your typical networking tool, social media has opened up opportunities for not only the every-day-scroller, but for businesses also.
But is the way we use social media set to change? And have brands had enough?
MacGregor Black takes a closer look at social media, and why some brands are taking a permanent break from it.
Social Media vs… The Battle of the Brands
With Facebook alone connecting 2.11 billion users all over the globe, it’s no surprise that social media has come to play an integral part in many of our lives. But with such scale, how is it possible to monitor and control 2.11billion individual narratives? The simple answer is… it isn’t.
With such publicity, comes scrutiny. And as platforms such as Facebook continue to embed themselves deeper into our society, many users are beginning to highlight some of their potential negative effects. One particular issue that continues to dominate the conversation, is social media’s relationship with our mental health.
In recent years, research has provided us with a plentiful evidence pool linking social media usage with a number of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphia. According to a 2022 Healthline study of 1,042 U.S citizens, 29% of participants of all age groups felt they needed to take regular social media breaks, in order to feel a benefit to their mental health. This number increased to a shocking 46% amongst 15–24-year-olds.
So, what can be done about this, and who’s responsibility is it to take control?
Noting the negative effects that social media was having on many of its customers, global cosmetics company, Lush, took a stand; and in 2021, decided to cut ties with online platforms Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Facebook.
The British retailer released a statement to accompany their decision:
“From 26th November 2021, the global Lush brand will be turning its back on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat, until the platforms take action to provide a safer environment for users. This policy is rolling out across all the 48 countries where Lush operates. In the same way that evidence against climate change was ignored and belittled for decades, concerns about the serious effects of social media are going largely ignored now. Lush is taking matters into its own hands and addressing the issues now, not waiting around until others believe in the problem before changing its own behaviour.”
Tesla Motors & SpaceX
Pre-dating Lush’s decision by almost three years, in March 2018, tech billionaire Elon Musk joined the race against social media; deliberately deleting both Tesla’s and SpaceX’s Facebook business pages.
Having regularly aired his opinion publicly, it is widely known that Elon Musk distrusts the way Facebook handles their consumer data. The decision then came to pull both his business pages, following a tragically historic week for the social media company, one that still sits fresh in our memory. In 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal prompted a wave of mistrust against Facebook, which later gave rise to the #deletefacebook hashtag.
At the time of the scandal, WhatsApp Co-Founder, Brian Acton tweeted in protest, “it is time #deletefacebook”, in which Musk responded sarcastically, “What’s Facebook?”. The Silicon Valley entrepreneur then went on to tweet that he thought Tesla’s Facebook page was “lame”.
In a final act, Musk was challenged by Twitter users to delete Tesla’s and SpaceX’s pages, “if he really was ‘the man’”, and in typical form, Musk declared he would delete them immediately. Sure enough, in under 30 minutes both business pages were cut from Facebook, and the following media attention, combined with the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, caused Facebook’s stock to plunge 6%.
Elon Musk has since gained the reputation as the modern day ‘Robin-Hood’ of free speech, as in April of this year, the eccentric billionaire made another daring move. This time, against Twitter.
In an effort to force change, on April 14th of this year, Musk made a bid to buy the social networking site for $54.20 per share, putting one of the world’s richest people at the helm of one of the world’s most influential platforms. Musk declared that, should the deal go through, his first priority would be to crack down on data management. However, only weeks after Elon’s rather rambunctious offer, he sought to terminate the deal, citing concerns over the social media company’s use of bots on the platform, artificially inflating their user numbers. Claims which were later supported by a company whistle blower. Twitter has since sued Musk to follow through with the acquisition. The judge overseeing the case has given both parties until the 28th of October to close the deal or face a trial in November.
In 2021, globally established fashion house, Bottega Veneta announced their own bold move to completely cut social media from their marketing strategy.
Creative Director, Daniel Lee, stated in an interview with The Guardian that, “there is a mood of playground bullying on social media which I don’t really like. I wanted to do something joyful instead… I don’t want to collude in an atmosphere that feels negative.” However, despite personal comments from Lee, the Bottega Veneta company refrained from releasing an official statement to explain their swift exit from social media. Leading fans to believe that perhaps this was the company’s latest strategic move in creating the ultimate luxury brand?
Kalyani Saha Chawla, former VP of Marketing & Communications at Dior believes luxury brands need to re-consider the fine balance between over-accessibility and exclusivity, quoting to Grazia UK that,
“luxury brands are diluting their image by using the same social mediums that every high street brand is utilising. Luxury stands for exclusivity, and if it’s all over Instagram and Twitter, it becomes too accessible, which might not resonate with a niche audience.”
A message that sat fittingly with Bottega Veneta’s social media departure, as it came less than a month after it unveiled its exclusive “Salon 01 Spring/Summer Show”, which was being secretly recorded at the time. Shortly after Bottega Veneta’s decision to ditch social, luxury apparel brand, Balenciaga quickly followed suit, wiping all of its content from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Perhaps another strategic move with this decision also preceding the brand’s first haute couture show in over 50 years…
Answering the Burning Question… What Happened Next?
In today’s society, it’s near impossible to picture a global company succeeding without a social media presence, but alas…some of our favourite cosmetics companies, automotive developers and high-end fashion brands claim they are already paving the way to find a successful future without ‘the Gram’.
After announcing their departure from its social media channels in 2021, cosmetics brand Lush turned to creating what they felt would be, authentic, quality content on the company’s online site instead. At the time, the company released a statement assuring shoppers that, ‘there are plenty of other places to take a dip into the Lush world’, stating that customers could still engage with the brand through shops, events, through the customer care team and on other digital platforms like Lush Player, Lush.com and their Lush Labs app. However, it’s worth noting that some individual stores and Lush staff continued to be active on social media and the company even encouraged customers to continue using branded lush hashtags to promote their content organically. Meaning Lush would remain true to its anti-social media protest, whilst also still staying fresh on the screens of shoppers across the globe.
SpaceX & Tesla
Following Elon Musk’s bold decision to delete both SpaceX and Tesla’s business Facebook pages, the company went on the make an even bolder move in 2020, officially dissolving it’s entire PR department; dubbing it the first automaker to no longer engage with the press. When asked to comment on the move, the billionaire business magnate stated that he wouldn’t go back to having a PR department because he ‘doesn’t believe in manipulating public opinion,’. He responded to a twitter user that encouraged the reinstatement of the Tesla PR team, saying, ‘Other companies spend money on advertising & manipulating public opinion, Tesla focuses on the product. I trust the people.’
So, with a much-reduced social media presence and absolutely no PR staff, how does a multi-billion-dollar business like Tesla expect to stay ahead of the curve?
Well, the American clean energy company relies heavily on one of the most effective marketing strategies out there, word of mouth. Tesla runs a highly popular referral program that encourages customers to share their love for the brand with their friends and family. Tesla enthusiasts, and their referees can earn rewards like free supercharger miles and cash to spend on energy efficient products. Not only that, but the electric vehicle manufacturer also manages multiple customer forums, hosts a global ‘owners club’, and is regularly involved in giving back to the communities they operate in. All of which are great ways to establish a strong brand message without even so much as a ‘share’. However, it’s worth noting that Musk himself has been a driving force behind Tesla and SpaceX’s ongoing success. His loud, charismatic, and sometimes even controversial social media presence certainly draws enough attention to both brands…
Founded in 1996 in Vicenza, Italy by Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro, Bottega Veneta has since firmly established itself as a high-end, luxury fashion house. Their fine leather handbags and quality crafted accessories don the frames of wealthy style icons in all corners of the world, that no doubt, enjoy scrolling as much as the rest of us.
Which is precisely what Bottega Veneta was counting on…
Despite not posting on their business account anymore, Bottega Veneta lives on through the Instagram pages of their loyal customers, influencers, and external partnerships. Rather than coming directly from the brand, content like product launches, events, and brand promotions make the rounds mainly through organic, user-generated content. Which enhances the brand’s exclusive image and cuts out a huge chunk of their workload. So, in theory, they can kick back and reap the rewards as customers are naturally drawn to their brand.
A strategy in which Bottega Veneta took to heart as at the time, the luxury brand doubled down on its quarterly online magazine in what they hoped would offer, “more progressive and more thoughtful” content. A goal in which many say they have successfully achieved since then.
MacGregor Black’s Global Head of Marketing, Mark Thursby, commented:
“I couldn’t agree more with Kalyani Saha Chawla, in that many Luxury brands sit in a precarious position. One that almost caused the demise of the iconic British Fashion Brand Burberry during the 1990’s, where high demand was met with ease of accessibility. And I believe social media is currently turbocharging just that, or the false impression that luxury products are easily accessible.
Social media is a great equaliser in that it grants the average user access to countless celebrity and influencer lifestyles, mixed in with our friends and family. However, when our feeds are excessively filled with luxury goods, this directly drives demand to a potentially dangerous level. Therefore, when accessibility meets it, in the form of ‘replica’ products, via short-term financing options such as fashion rental, or services such as Klarna, a brand can pass a point of which it’s presence in a market is too heavily saturated and it ceases being perceived as ‘luxury’.
The same theory applies across the board. From cars, to homes, to holidays, and even our own physical appearance. When social media creates the illusion that all of these brilliant products are easily attainable, and not just that, they’re owned by your neighbour, your best friend, and the people you went to school with, the potential to damage a person’s self-esteem can be severe.
Therefore, with brands withdrawing from social media it’ll be very interesting to see what impact that has in the long-term. Will losing the central voice of their brand, do the opposite of what they aim to achieve, and create a more customer-controlled brand image? Or will it dampen demand down to sustainable levels and drive traffic through more ‘traditional’ channels where brands can better manage the battle between demand and access?”
Whilst there are many advantageous qualities to the root-and-branch reform of social media, something brands should consider is, one of most identifying features of a successful business is its powerful approach to customer loyalty. What social media offers consumers is the ability to receive quick responses via direct messaging, as well as the opportunity to engage with brands honestly and publicly on live comments. Some argue that, as a result of axing social media, businesses run the risk of potentially thinning the line of communication between themselves and their customers.
Is This the Way Forward?
Without doubt, social media is one of the most impactful and cost-effective marketing tools available today. But as we’ve recently discovered, some brands are beginning to stand up and take notice of the damage it may be causing to, not just to their customers or their brand image, but to wider society in general. Dubbed with a disregarding attitude towards mental health, rocky data management processes, and the potential to banish a brand’s luxury image, is the social media sparkle slowly dwindling?
And as globally recognised brands like Bottega Veneta, Tesla and Lush radically re-think their social media strategies, many of us are left asking the question, is this the beginning of the great social media snub?
The time-honoured tradition of battling it out for a parking spot, brushing past rows of neatly lined linens, grabbing a quick coffee, and heading home with shopping bags bursting at the seams is under threat like never before. With Covid-19 fast-tracking the shift to online, how does in-store retail respond?
MacGregor Black takes a closer look at what’s in-store for the future of retail, including one of the most popular strategies that brands are rolling out right now, experiential marketing.
Today’s Retail Landscape?
If you’re find shopping feeling a little different these days, you’ll be glad to know you aren’t alone. Shops certainly still exist, the gladiatorial parking spot battles still commence, and coffee still powers the weary toward that one final purchase. However, in the last decade we’ve witnessed the bustling world of in-store retail evolve drastically, with many consumers now opting to get their hands on the latest products, without even stepping near a store.
Where once, to see, try on a product, and own it that day was a market owned entirely by in-store, these days technology has joined the party and is showing no signs of going home.
From ordering online, to scrolling through Instagram, the internet has opened up a plethora of alternative options for consumers to shop and it’s easy to see why many of us are choosing convenience over physical experience. As our lives get busier and our time more precious, shops naturally become less appealing. Add to this the recent pandemic and the enticing lure of the internet, with its 24-7 convenience becomes harder than ever to resist. Despite this, retail is certainly still alive & kicking, and with the threat of online competition, the natural response is… innovation.
A whole host of new and creative experiences are being rolled out for shoppers all around the globe with big name brands like Nike, Ralph Lauren and Red Bull offering their customers an in-store experience that goes far beyond the traditional shopping trip.
What Exactly is Experiential Marketing?
If you’re a film lover, or a regular book worm like myself, then there’s no doubt you’re familiar with the intoxicating feeling of being transported to new and exotic worlds, to experience something completely new. Something exciting and most importantly, unique.
This is the type of memorable, immersive experience that experiential marketeers hope to create for their audience. An experience that stands-out from the crowd and leaves us wanting more. After all, people want memories, stories, and adventures to share, not just products, and experiential marketing is a perfect way to achieve this.
Also known as ‘engagement marketing’, ‘live marketing’ or ‘participation marketing’, experiential marketing is a strategy that invites an audience to interact with a brand through a real-world, face-to-face event. In short, experiential marketing enables customers to not simply buy from a brand, but to deeply engage with and experience the brand on a personal level. According to Forbes, experiential marketing can bolster a long-lasting and unforgettable relationship between brands and customers, as well as providing brands with a unique range of opportunities to further grow and develop.
While most experiential campaigns focus on live events such as festivals, retreats, trade shows and conferences; there are no written rules. Many examples take the form of one-off installations or activations, such as product taste testing, giveaways, pop-up experiences, kiosks, and a range of other unique experiences that drive meaningful interactions with customers.
However, not simply limited to in-store, experiential marketing often crosses the borders between the physical and digital world, with many brands incorporating an online presence into their experiential strategy, such as a branded hashtags, micro-sites, and social media campaigns, to raise awareness and encourage eWoM.
Why Use Experiential Marketing?
In recent years, one of the common demands that has steadily emerged across the consumer and retail industries is, trust. The more honest, dependable, and trustworthy a brand appears, the more likely it is that consumers will shop there in the future and even recommend the brand to their friends and family. With this in mind, a sure-fire way that retailers can build confidence in their brand and ensure this season’s boots stay on the ground, is with a well-executed and engaging experiential campaign. Providing customers with the opportunity to physically meet with brand reps, try new products in person, and experience unique events, creates a feeling of connection that simply cannot be achieved exclusively through online campaigns.
Not only is experiential marketing a great way to reinforce a brand’s message and build loyalty with existing customers, but it can also be a fantastic platform for new customer acquisition. Personal interactions can go a long way when it comes to gaining a consumer’s initial buy in, as it opens up the opportunity to really understand a brand, the product, and the people behind it. In fact, according to EventTrack, a hefty 91% of consumers reported that they would be more inclined to purchase a brand’s product or service after participating in a brand activation or experience, and 40% felt they would actually become more loyal to the brand.
Similar to the intricate world of digital marketing, one of the most important benefits to experiential marketing is the ability to generate leads and gather data on potential new customers. From contact details, to demographics, brands are able to obtain and use this data to fine-tune their strategy and engage with similar people who may also be interested in their brand in the future. And when coupled with an audience that has opted into the experience on offer, the quality, quantity and also reliability of the data collected is likely to be significantly greater.
Our Top 5 Campaigns
According to HubSpot, experiential marketing now ranks as one of the top five marketing strategies that companies currently leverage, with brands all over the globe beginning to see the benefits of engaging with their customers on a personal level.
But enough talking, here are our top 5 most interesting experiential campaigns launched to date:
SNCF – ‘Europe is Just Next Door’
In 2012, French rail network, SNCF teamed up with ad agency, TBWA, to put their company on the map, with the launch of their ‘Europe is Just Next Door’ campaign. The railway company created a virtual traveling experience for city goers all over Europe, by placing brightly coloured doors in major EU cities, waiting patiently to be opened by curious passers-by. Behind each door was a real-time event that offered pedestrians the chance to be transported to beautiful cities around the world with just the twist of a handle. It could be a street performer on the bustling banks of the Seine River, an enthusiastic mime surrounded by mesmerised crowds on the streets of Milan, or even a sketch artist eagerly waiting to paint your portrait from a park bench in Brussels. The campaign created a connection not only between the consumer and the location, but also with SNCF, placing it as a company that could turn your dream European trip, into a reality.
Pepsi’s ‘Pepsi Touch’ Social Vending Machine
Using interactive digital technology, PepsiCo launched a state-of-the-art Social Vending Machine, which transformed the simple metal box, into a vessel for kindness. The impressive system allowed users to gift their friends a pre-paid bottle of Pepsi, from a far-away location. For the user, they simply add in the receipts name, mobile number and a personalised video message, and the receiver of the beverage is sent a system code and instructions to retrieve the drink, free of charge, from a selected machine. The campaign also allowed people to commit random acts of refreshment by purchasing a drink for a stranger or sending “a symbol of encouragement to a city that’s experienced some challenging weather or a congratulatory beverage to a university that just won a championship,” PepsiCo said.
This is a great example of how experiential marketing opens the doors for brands to gather as much useful data from potential customers as possible.
‘Scoops Ahoy’ – Netflix & Baskin Robbins
In the hit Netflix show, Stranger Things, 80’s teen, Steve Harrington worked at the fictional ice cream parlour, Scoops Ahoy. In 2019, the well-known streaming platform, Netflix and leading American ice cream specialists, Baskin Robbins teamed up in an epic attempt to bring the on-screen ice cream shop to life. The campaign consisted of a range of different elements that launched steadily across America, including a shop, which remained open for two weeks, a 15 second commercial advertising the famous USS Butterscotch ice cream as seen on the show, an ice cream yacht, and a social media campaign to spread the word. The creative campaign also featured a Scoops Ahoy themed van travelling around the UK, giving out free retro flavoured ice-cream to excited Stranger Things fans in busy cities including, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Exeter, and Dublin.
The Fortnite Rift Tour
Fornite, one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world and Ariana Grande, Guinness World Record holder for the most songs to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, teamed up to create an out-of-this-world musical experience. The Fortnite Rift Tour, held in the metaverse, was an event that pushed the boundaries of experiential marketing to the max, bringing virtual, hybrid and in-person events all in one place. The partnership saw experiential marketing professionals working with the metaverse to create a new range of immersive, high-tech events. As part of the campaign, Ariana Grande gave her first live performance in two years, exclusively for her fans in the metaverse. The detailed digital setting also allowed the audience to explore the colourful world of Fortnite, with interactive mini-games and challenges available throughout the event.
Proud and Present by lululemon
A key theme in many successful experiential campaigns is to eliminate the need to generate direct revenue from it. Instead opting to create a brand experience that your customers will never forget. In 2019, American apparel retailer, lululemon, launched the ‘Proud and Present’ campaign encouraging reflection within the LGBTQ21A+ community. The activation saw the execution of a full social campaign, two in-person experiences, and multiple in-store campaigns. The brand worked with their employees to create intimate, personal photos and videos which discussed topics impacting their community, which were shared on social media and brought to life in an outdoor installation in Hudson River Park in New York City. For two weeks, the brand also hosted LGBTQ21A+ inspired yoga sessions in the park to raise funds to support The Trevor Projects work with the community.
In conclusion, as customers become increasingly aware of when, where, and how they shop, and the battle for convenience rages on, the in-store experience, now more than ever must stand out from the crowd. And with almost 60% of consumers now expecting retailers to dedicate more floor space to experiences, rather than just products, the future of retail has a clear expectation. Even a whopping 81% of consumer said they were more likely to open their wallets and pay more for products that offered an upgraded their overall shopping experience.
With that in mind, keep your eyes peeled for the latest in activations and events at your local stores!
If you’d like to speak to our team of Retail Marketing recruitment specialists, get in touch today via 0191 691 1949 or via email@example.com