The global consumer

Consider the number of paid services you use on a daily basis. Then add the physical products you use. Are they all easy to buy? Are you getting the best product or service out there? And not only the best product or service “available in your market”?

Netflix´US content is not the same content as provided in European countries, HBO is far behind Netflix in global online distribution, and what is available for you on iTunes in the US might not be available in Spain. On the other hand, buying furniture online from Asia, shipped halfway around the world has just become the new normal. In the year of 2017 when all we hear is “disruption”, taking into account the worlds migration numbers, digital expats, digital nomads, students abroad and all other people “on the go” – why are industries failing to see the  the global consumer?

It was an ad I saw on facebook, where The New Yorker was advertising a special offer on a subscription deal for me who did not live in the US, that initially sparked the interest in writing this blog post. My first thought when I saw the ad was actually – well done! Their web statistics have shown that there is an interest for their publication outside of the US , they tracked that I read their feature about Anthony Bourdain’s new documentary, and decided to address me directly. And as a consumer – I felt that they saw me, even though I live no where near New York.

“not available in your region” – should be a thing of the past by now.

With this in mind I started thinking about all the services and products that I wanted to buy, but couldnt. (And I am not talking about shipping availability or cost here). There was the documentary from Tribeca Film Festival that on iTunes was “not available in your region” – that phrase should be a thing of the past by now. Then there are the film studios that still roll out movies in Europe 6 months after they are available in the US – no one has patience for that sort of thing anymore. I had a full shopping cart on a retail website that during check out would not let me pay unless I had a local credit card. Sephora in Europe does not have the same offering as Sephora in the US. I could go on all day, the point is; why are you making it so difficult to buy your products and services? Which business does not want to grow their customer base? And the size of their cart? Also, how can I as a consumer feel secure that I receive the best product offering?

Of course there are probably a few different reasons why this is not possible. But these issues need to be addressed, otherwise a lot of companies are all just Kodak waiting to happen. Meanwhile, Amazon and Alibaba seem to be doing better than fine, and will soon rule the world.

Thankfully there is a great example of the next industry disrupting the world and addressing the global consumer: Banking. Yes, the grey suits industry is being invaded by the t-shirt guys – #FinTech.

It seems that banking is the last industry to get disrupted by the tech industry.  And for a good reason, we used to put a lot of trust in them. You used to have the same bank all your life, often the same bank your parents had. Banking is the one thing in our lives that we all find quite boring to deal with, and you don´t give them a second thought until you need a loan or they charge you for something that you don´t understand.

There are many new growing companies in the FinTech industry, but let’s start with an example that made two Estonian guys so frustrated that they built the service Transferwise. Doing international transfers between banks can cost anything from 35€ up to several hundred Euros (depending on the country, the bank, the amount and the urgency of the transfer). You might not think that international transfers are that relevant to you, but it affects a lot more people then you would think. Whether you have a vacation home abroad that means you have to transfer money internationally, you are employed by a company in a different country than where you reside, you are an immigrant wanting to send money to your native country, a student abroad, a digital nomad, digital expat or a regular tourist – you might to some extent be affected by the fees of international transfers and currency exchange rates. Transferwise let you send money from your account or a credit card to any account, any where, for a fraction of the cost of that of a traditional bank. Transferwise now has over 1 million customers, sending more than 800m GBP using the platform every month. (In April 2017, they announced its decision to move its headquarters from London to the continent due to Brexit).

But Transferwise offers only one type of service. Ever heard of the bank N26?

N26 is the mobile bank that lets you set up your account by online verification, has no local branches and you get everything you need through the N26 app on your phone. Having no local branches means that this bank of course is a lot cheaper than your bank, their services are innovative, and made for the global consumer. They now have 300,000 users, representing 206 nationalities, living in 17 different countries. In addition to their innovative banking services, they cooperate with a network of FinTech companies that build their innovations directly into the N26 app. This means that international transfers are handled by Transferwise, insurance from Allianz, cash payment solution by Barzahlen, investment services by Vaamo, and credit card by Mastercard. And if you and your friend both use N26 banking app – you can transfer money between each other via iMessage or Siri.

There are local banks offering around the world offering several different easy mobile pay and transfer solution between people in different markets. Their limitation is of course borders – you can only use “Vipps” (Norway), “Svish” (Sweden), “Bizum” (Spain) and WeChat (China) if you have a local phone number and account. And meanwhile facebook, Google, Samsung, and PayPal are working hard on their wallet solutions for key markets. Facebook have already partnered up with Transferwise on a transfer messenger bot. Which means that Transferwise can very well become a huge threat to traditional banks earnings on international and national transfer fees.I am sure we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg here.

Another innovative product made for the global consumer that is worth mentioning is the smartphone One Plus 3T, which approach to market is “Never Settle”. It lets you operate on dual SIM cards which means that you can have let´s say one Spanish number and one UK number on the same phone and when you have an incoming call you can choose which SIM to answer with, regardless of which number the caller dialed. It is fully charged in 30 minutes, has an internal storage of 128GB, and runs on a pimped up version of Android OS

The global consumer already exist of course, we have been shopping online since the birth of the internet. You as a small or big business are able to reach consumers on the other side of the world. Which of course has quite a substantial contribution to the shipping industry and the global economy in general.  You can even target them specifically with your marketing communication. But taking into account the different governments tax laws on import, trade deals or lack there of, and the lack of innovation from companies and whole industries – we as global consumers are still provided a limited product offering, lot of products and services that are mediocre or simply not distributed in a way that meet our expectations.

Tomorrow I want to rent a movie online directly from Tribeca Film Festival, or from Warner Bros, set up a “Shopify” for global movie rental for all I care. As long as you make the film available worldwide and let me pay for it with a credit card from a foreign bank. We all know what happens if you don’t.

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Super Bowl LI – great stories

Super Bowl ads this year were all about being relevant and putting the brands stories in context. The best stories told were about equality, and reflecting the times we are in.

Here are my favorite stories from SB51:

“Together is beautiful” Coca Cola

 

“Get a safe ride home, that´s the best play” Tostitos

 

“We may have our differences, but recognise that there is more that unites us” NFL

 

“The will to succeed is always welcome here” 84lumber.com

 

“Progress is for everyone” Audi USA

 

An old iconic brand like Tiffany show they are not afraid of change and diversity by connecting Lady Gaga to their story

Designing Experiences

If you started a company today, what would the experience look like?

Many of the companies that have been around for 50 years, 100 years or even longer, have a certain model, system or program for how their experience is supposed to look like. This have for the most part changed over time, but slowly – a reflection on how the world changed. And these changes have often followed the world changes, not been in the forefront of the changes.

But what if you could start fresh today? Scratch everything you know to be true about  your business/industry/product/service experience today and start over, with a complete open mind and “everything is allowed” mindset. And if you are going to make changes, you should make big bold ones that takes your business into the forefront of your industry. Don’t adjust your current experience model – make a new one! And while you´re at it, it better not reflect today’s world but what your world, the industry you are in, will look like tomorrow.

Tesla & Amazon use technology to improve or all together change experiences; we thought they were making new kinds of products but they have actually changed the way we view and experience the world of today and the world of tomorrow.

To exemplify I want to show you some great examples from different industries:

AirBNB launching “Experience Host” service; knowledgeable hosts creating a new unique experience around a city every time. Giving new meaning to “travel like a local”.

Diplo, Major Lazer & DJ Snake released the major hit “Lean On” independently without any gigantic music label backing, it went viral.  It is the most streamed song of all times on Spotify. And the low budget video made in under 24h has 1,7 Billion views on YouTube.

Vail Resorts, the world’s first global ski resort brand? Vail Resorts low-priced Epic Pass give guests unlimited access to all of Vail’s mountains,  fosters skier loyalty, gives the company insight into its customers´skiing habits – which the company use to personalise its marketing and improve the on-mountain experience for guests. Personally I believe this represents a huge opportunity for designing new experiences in skiing tourism as well.

Gene editing; scientist and doctors have edited the genes of a baby about to die from aggressive leukemia. It´s by no means ready for mass production, but this experience opened a big bright door to the future.  (Read the full story here: http://nbcnews.to/2fQP5rY)

Disruption is the new stability, disruption is the new normal

I really love what I do for a living. Yes I’m one of those. I take great interest in my profession, almost to the point where it turns geeky. And I just love what marketing is and what it can achieve. Some will find this weird,I know. But it is a big part of our daily lives, whether it is your job or not.

The truth is, very few choices we make in life are not influenced by something or someone. And very often they are influenced by marketing.

It’s not something most people think about, unless it is your job to think about it. Whether to vote or not, which politician to vote for, what furniture you have in your home, , the brand of your running shoes, where you buy your clothes, what kind of clothes you buy and what brand they are, where you go on vacation, what cheese brand you have in your fridge, and which supermarket you shop your groceries at.

How can it be that we think we make conscious decisions based only on our own thoughts, or that we think we don´t make conscious decisions and “nothing” is behind it? The answer is of course found in how our minds work, it all comes down to psychology. Sometimes we make a conscious choice; “people like me do things like this” , you make a choice by association. There are times where we think we make a choice based on several rational factors (e.g. price, quality, brands you’ve heard of etc), but your choices were already influenced before you got to your “top three” options to choose from. And then there are times where you actually have no idea why you made the choice you did, because your choice was influenced without you even noticing.  I bet you have no idea why you bought exactly that vacuum cleaner, or what brand of toilet paper you have in your house?  It is no accident. Fascinating, isn’t it?

And before you say ” that stuff does not work on me, I see straight through all advertising and marketing attempts” , let me tell you that there are of course different ways to influence your decisions. Sometimes low price messages will not affect you one bit, and sometimes you just need the right frequency on that message and you will eventually be convinced, or not. Maybe a brand put a cute animal/baby/girl/boy in their message to make you remember them, and hence you might remember and choose them over a competitor next time simply because you remembered them. Or maybe how persistent a brand is in what they communicate and how they do it over a long period of time will influence you in a way that only your subconscious picks up on. First test, recognize this?

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Thought so, point proven.

Maybe you don´t like that particular brand, but to some people beer is just beer and Carlsberg will do everything they can to make sure that you choose their brand. And in the process explain to you that beer is in fact not just beer, because their beer is probably the best beer in the world.

But why is it that some brands reach a level in your mind where you, consciously or unconsciously, have a connection with a brand and will buy the products or services it provides? For one, the people behind the brands are very good at what they do. Secondly it is the story they tell.

“..somehow the people who manages to tell a story, even temporarily, move us in a certain way that we remember. We don’t feel like we are being sold, we feel we are being told something that we can connect to”. Kevin Spacey.

 

To add on this food for thought piece I will leave you with a great story from a commercial brand, enjoy!

 

Live Video Stars

We already know that the new generation of media consumers are not only consuming through new and/or established platforms; they are also distributing content themselves. Content that they just by instinct know will engage people, or content they want but can’t find.

Today you have your bloggers, vloggers, YouTube channels for every hobby on the planet, Instagram photographers, Instagram models, Snapchat Kings & Queens, lifestyle influencer brands that started as bloggers, and everything else under the social media sun that we now are very familiar and accustomed to. The next social media celebrities from the new generation seem to come through a less filtered version though – Live Video.

In most parts of the world we are very familiar with live video apps and services such as Periscope and Facebook Live, if we are not creators ourselves we at least seem to be paying attention to the live streams (Facebook has seen a 700% growth in video views in the last 14 months).

I personally find it fascinating that I can watch live video streams from both unknown creators and CNN within the same app. And take part in a moment on the other side of the planet, whether it be breaking news, a beautiful sunrise or the Olympics.

Even though we are just starting to embrace live video one should always keep one eye open for what´s next in how we consume live video content, and how we can utilize this tool. And who knows better how to adapt tools and make them their own more than the people of China. Of course, Periscope and Facebook Live are banned in China (together with YouTube, Google, Vimeo, Soundcloud and a long list of other tech companies), so they have innovatively enough built their own live video apps.

Apps such as Ingkee, Momo and Douyu are now the top live video apps in China in terms of number of users and their degree of innovation. Momo was initially a dating app and Douyu a gaming platform, both have now switched their focus to live video as China sees a reality TV culture emerge within the live video space. The content in the live video streams on these different apps varies from “look at me having lunch” and “watch me doing absolutely nothing” (really), to “watch me do my make up” and making conversation with their audience – basically real life or “reality TV” through a mobile lens with no filters. The live video stars also out test driving cars and promote whatever endorsement deals they have going on. The audience can of course respond and engage not only with different emoticons, but also by buying the live video stars virtual gifts bought with real money that the receiver can then take out as hard cash (50/50 split with the app owner). The gifts can be anything from virtual flowers to virtual yachts, and even though we are not talking real life amounts for each item here it is still proven to be a healthy business in addition to endorsement deals.

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“Wang Jianlin, founder of real estate colossus Dalian Wanda Group, streamed video of himself playing poker with associates on a private jet via an app backed by his son. More than 300,000 people watched, and many sent virtual gifts to China’s richest man”. Bloomberg.com

The live video sector in China is now growing at such a pace that it’s turning into a new economic sector of it’s own, which tech giants Tencent and Alibaba have also invested in. As much as “TV personality” and “blogger” now are considered careers, you can now also be a “live video star” in China.

I am very curios to see how live video will evolve the next few years. We can already follow professional news broadcasters on live video, but I would definitely like to see people involved in tourism, cooking, personal training, and real estate taking advantage of live video as soon as possible. Or why not live video Art?

 

Thanks to CNN.com, Bloomberg.com, WSJ.com and TheBeijinger.com for inspiration.

 

 

Be different

“All you need is a better idea”

To disrupt a business or industry is to do things differently; serve a market that previously couldn’t be served, or cater your product or service to fit another distribution model.

But in order to disrupt you first of all need to think differently, look at things differently, see your product or service from a different angle (maybe someone outside your industry should help you see it from a different point of view), and get comfortable with the idea that you will never “be done” or even reach your vision. Every challenge, project, brief, situation, product development and communication needs to come from “scratch” ; the scratch being a blank canvas for your thoughts about the task at hand.

In a workshop ten years ago we would call this “thinking outside the box”, but there is no box (!)

Tech, social media, product innovation and marketing communication are now so closely linked together, or in my opinion at least should be, that we need to look at the way we communicate a product or service just as different as the product innovation itself. And if you are exceptionally good at what you do you have a team that work closely together on all of the above.

I get extremely geeky excited every time I see communication that strives to be different. With the first obvious reward being attention, you of course need more than attention to get to the long term effect but without the attention there is no scale of your message and hard work.

With Cannes Lions coming up a lot of great work surfaces from around the globe. So here are a few examples of daring to be different.

 

 

 

Thanks to Adweek and Cleverism.com for inspiration.

One on One

How different generations  communicate and how we as marketers can be a part of that conversation are questions that seems to stand the test of time. There are of course the demographic variables to take into consideration as the world of communication and the world we live in interconnect. But no matter where your customers live, how they communicate and how they approach different products and brands (or don`t), there is always something to be learned from it.

What I find interesting now is what differs the most from the part of the world that I live in; which is China.

With the great firewall of China blocking facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter it is no wonder that WeChat has become the Chinese populations “everything”. The innovation in WeChat is still impressive though and the rest of the world should pay close attention to the service they provide within the app. This is an app that has 570 million daily users and it is not just a chat app, it is your mobile wallet, your daily news provider, your blog platform, and might even be your recruitment platform soon as they have a LinkedIn integration as well. Apps like Whatsapp pale in comparison to the services available for WeChat`s audience in China.

Media and brands are now finding their way in to take part in the conversation with their target audience in an app that is such a big part of this populations life. As for most social media channels the individual is very much the hart of the conversation, and to just set up an account for an official media publisher within WeChat is likely to not have as strong of impact or influence as an individual voice has.

Some publishers recognizes this by encouraging their reporters to set up their own public accounts on WeChat sponsored by their publisher employer. This way the news are communicated in a personal way and not only in a “texted” version from mass media content.

KLM is one of the brands that has started their conversations with their Chinese customers on WeChat, and by integrating this platform into their CRM system they can use this channel more efficiently based on previous interactions with their customers on other platforms. KLM take their social media seriously and believe that they can serve their client best `where ever they are` .

Outside China we are more familiar with WhatsApp, which now has 1 Billions users. KLM are of course using the popular WhatsApp chat app as well in their social media mix. At Schiphol airport in Amsterdam you can now rebook your cancelled flight via WhatsApp, so you don`t have to stand in line at the service desk should your flight be cancelled due to an ash cloud or earthquake. A service that might be more useful on a frequent basis is how the Starwood Hotel Group use WhatsApp to communicate with the guests staying in their hotels. At the W Hotel in Doha you can ask the Guest services/ Concierge/W Insider for a wake up call, dinner reservations, room service, butler assistance, dry cleaning and more.

This of course opens up to new expectations in how your audience will demand that you are accessible to them. Whatsapp, Faceboook Messenger, Viber, and the likes of them, can prove to be a vital step in how you build customer loyalty when your audience`s phone is glued to their hands. And for the travel industry it is also an excuse to make communication easy in a world where no traveller really needs them anymore unless something goes wrong.

We as marketers and/or publishers now need to carefully take part in this conversation, and to quote Marissa Meyer about Tumblr ” promise not to fuck it up”.

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(Researching for this article I used my own experience and the following sources: Tech in Asia, Fusion.com, KLM, and Cmo.com)