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Self-care isn’t a luxury anymore

This dumpster fire of a year has had one up-side: a growing interest in self-care and wellness.

We don’t see wellness as a luxury anymore.

The global pandemic has changed how we work, socialise and unwind.

Not to mention that it’s taken a toll on our mental health.

Facebook says mindful wellness is a major indicator that people are making time for self-care.

Over the course of the year, this trend has graduated from treating yourself to small indulgences, to planning for the future.

Pinterest is calling 2021 the year of rebirth.

In their ‘Not-yet-trending’ report for 2021, Pinterest is predicting that when people can’t venture outwards, they turn inwards.

They say that next year we’re looking forward to turning our homes into sanctuaries for work, play and relaxation.

Pinners are seeking inspiration on a whole host of activities.

From mindful wellness activities for kids, prepping gourmet meals at home and advice on being financially independent to creating a better aesthetic at home with LED lights.

And brands are already responding.

Like Colgate, who partnered with the meditation app Headspace, to reward people for using Colgate Hum, a smart brushing app.

Colgate gave their customers ‘smile points’ in exchange for brushing their teeth and completing other in-app tasks.

When you earned 200 points, you got a free 60-day trial to Headspace with the Hum app.

And the possibility to continue using Headspace through Hum after the trial period.

Check out more campaigns that promote mental health and are making a difference.

Millennials now wield more decision making power at work. What does that mean for marketing?

Since the global lockdown started we’ve all been spending a lot more time staring at our screens.

And that’s true for both our personal and professional selves.

Since the start of the pandemic, B2B buyers are consuming more online content than before.

And there are differences in the type of content consumed as well.

For instance, interest in reading:

  • Executive summaries increased by 265%,
  • Landing Pages increased by 139% and
  • Webinars increased by 108%.

For the digital natives, this is more ‘duh’ than a revelation but bare with me.

(I know I have a stack of downloads that I opted in for and then promptly forgot about.)

The interesting thing is that, for the first time, online content and digital interactions are not only replacing in-person meetings, but people seem to have developed a preference for them!

Research by McKinsey shows that buyers have enjoyed the efficiency and convenience of self-serve and remote interactions so much that only about 20% hope to return to in-person interactions.

As an introvert, I’m pleased by this statistic. As a digital marketer, I’m ecstatic!

This shift is already reflected in how marketers across Europe are planning their budgets for 2021.

There’s an increased focus on investing in innovation and the use of new technologies for engaging customers.

This isn’t a ‘new normal’ type of shift either.

Because I know you’re sick of hearing everything slightly out of the ordinary getting put under the ‘New Normal’ blanket.

But believe me when I tell you that this one is different. And I’ll tell you why.

Millennials have officially grown up (yay us!).

And they’re moving up the ranks and taking leadership roles in the workplace.

All generation shifts bring their own challenges. 

Millennials are the first cohort of digital natives that don’t have any professional experience predating Google, Facebook, Amazon and thousands of other cloud-based apps for, well… literally everything.

GWI and LinkedIn explored this generational shift and discovered that millennials, whom they’ve dubbed BETA, are already key influencers in their organisations as well as approach B2B purchasing very differently.

You can download the research from here.

The battle for short-form video

I’ve been a little distracted by the political drama surrounding TikTok. 

But as entertaining as it is to see Trump’s antics and Microsoft rushing to meet the September 15th deadline, the bigger picture here isn’t just about the politics.

It’s about who will own short-form video – and with it the attention of today’s teens and twentysomethings.

As the experts put it, Gen Z’ers are not only trying to get their parents to buy them stuff, but mom and dad are listening to their opinions on what to buy for themselves. And these opinions are, in turn, influenced by YouTubers, Twitch streamers and TikTok creators.

The future of influencing is short-form video.

And everyone’s got their play.

Yesterday Facebook officially launched Reels in 50 countries.

Instagram’s Reels is TikTok in every way, except it only lets you make 15-second videos – so you know not exactly the same.

Facebook is no stranger to copying features from smaller apps. It’s not like they can buy them off, not with the antitrust authorities breathing down their necks.

Still, the timing of this launch couldn’t be perfect.

For a long time, nobody was quite sure what TikTok was all about. And just as advertisers were warming up to it, their troubles in the US started. 

Enter Instagram. It’s familiar, your fans are already there so, why not give Reels a go instead?

Instagram is quickly turning into Facebook’s super-clone-app. But I still like Instagram and as Sara Frier wrote in Bloomberg, Instagram has what Facebook does not, which makes it Zuckerberg’s best bet at staying relevant.

Snap Chat’s attempt at giving uncertain TikTok users a new home.

Last week Snap Chat introduced a new feature that, just like TikTok, allows users to add music to their snaps. 

I’m excited to say that they didn’t stop there. As TechCrunch reported, users will be able to swipe up to view the ‘album art’ and even listen to the whole song on their favourite streaming app.

See, Zuck, it’s really not that hard.

Before TikTok came along, Snap Chat was the app for teenagers. Although they have a large userbase outside the US, they reach more teenagers and twentysomethings in the US than Facebook, Messenger and Instagram combined.

“Snapchat says its music feature, however, will allow fans to form deeper connections with artists and music. It also spoke to its strength in being a tool for close friends, which gives it more influence — largely because of how its younger user base values friend-to-friend recommendations.” –  Sarah Perez, TechCrunch

Have you heard of Quibi?

There isn’t much to say about it since not much has happened since it’s launch earlier this year. Quibi is a short-form original content streaming app that offers original content in ‘10-minute or less’ chunks. 

It’s still early days and there’s some controversy around how successful its launch has been. 

You know, I do like the idea of original content that’s designed to entertain me in 10-minutes or less but I don’t know if I’ll pay for it. At the moment the future looks uncertain for an app designed for commuters and launched at the worst time possible for commuting.

And then there’s Microsoft

I know they don’t own TikTok yet but their play for its US business is worth mentioning.

While they do own Xbox, Bing and LinkedIn, for the most part, they’re a business-to-business company. And we all know how it turned the last time when they went into video streaming business.

To be honest, when I first read the news I was all ‘hold on a minute, they wanna do what now?’

But after reading Tim Peterson’s explanation, I think it might just be the right move for Microsoft.

This purchase is going to be costly and their expenses won’t end there. But TikTok will bring Microsoft closer to Gen Z and give it proper legs to stand on against the Facebook-Google duopoly.

Finally, an actual use case for AR

You probably weren’t expecting to read about luggage this summer. Neither was I.

Until I read about how an online retailer of bags, eBags, got 112% increase in mobile conversions AND a drop in customer returns all because of using AR (Augmented Reality).

Pokemon Go started the AR craze but the reality of it, so far, hasn’t quite lived up to the hype.

Many brands have been playing around with the tech but everyday use is still lacklustre.

In the meantime, it’s nice to see what we can expect from AR in e-commerce.

Google’s 3D ad-format is coming out of beta.

And it’ll be available to everyone.

Not to mention that the greater influence of Amazon in e-commerce isn’t leaving brands much choice other than to set up shop in the marketplace.

More Amazon, though, means smaller margins. Plus putting all your eggs in one basket isn’t strategic.

Creative solutions are how you can make your own ecommerce site attractive to customers.

And AR makes it easier for customers to experience the product in a more complete way – as they would in a physical store – which is never a bad idea.

Singapore’s virtual island getaway is bloody brilliant

After getting hit by COVID restrictions, Singapore’s Sentosa island resort and BBH created (read: hacked together) a virtual version of the famous island getaway in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing.

In an interview with The Drum, the BBH explained:

“[We] created over 50 custom-made designs for the island, which represented individual brands and attractions on the island, such as restaurants and clubs.”

NintendoSoup described the virtual resort as:

“Beach bars, nature trails, the Skyline Luge, the Shangri-La and Capella hotels, and a spot for yoga by the beach, all recreated within Animal Crossing: New Horizons.”

This is a whole new level of creativity in advertising and brand activation.

Why should you care?

Video games are now mainstream.

Several times a week thousands of people choose to spend their free time playing games like Fortnite and Animal Crossing.

As Owen Williams wrote on his blog:

“Not only is Fortnite the new hangout spot, replacing the mall, Starbucks or just loitering in the city, it’s become the coveted ‘third place’ for millions of people around the world.”

With fewer young people watching TV (and even when they do it’s often an ad-free streaming service) brand activation needs to go where people are instead.

As BBH Singapore’s Chief Creative Officer told The Drum:

“We‘re living in times where our audience literally is paying money to avoid seeing our work. We really need to work a lot harder to provide value. A shortcut to that are those cultural moments… because they immediately make you relevant and interesting. It‘s really important that we leave this bubble of the hip, Netflix-watching ad men and women and really look out to see what the majority of people really care about.”

These are still early days.

And many brands are still building their approach to gaming. You can go the influencer route or run strategic campaigns like Samsung

But no matter the road you take, you need to start talking about your approach to gaming with your team. Now.

Newzoo’s Remer Rietkerk has relevant advice for any brand manager looking to define their approach to gaming:

“Brand activation in games can take many different forms. Fortnite is a trailblazer for in-game activations, making it a perfect case study. Travis Scott performed an in-game virtual concert, a collaboration with Nike which generated 27 million unique virtual attendees. This was only the latest in a series of events Epic Games launched in its Fortnite game world, with previous examples including Marvel, Batman, and Star Wars.”

He also advises sticking to these key principles:

  • Any collaboration must make sense in the game‘s universe; it shouldn‘t feel forced.
  • It needs to feel authentic, resonating with the community the promotion is servicing.
  • Promotions cannot interfere with gameplay, especially in big-budget games