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Campaign Brief (AUS/NZ) Online.
Campaign Brief Magazine : September 2010
6 CAMPAIGNBRIEF SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010 NET#WORK OUR AGENCY HAS SOME OF Australia’s largest and most successful retail clients in Woolworths, Westfield and more recently David Jones. To read some of the anonymous com- ments on the Campaign Brief blog you’d think this is the end of the world. According to ‘Anonymous’, large retail clients are the death knell of creativity - well, yes and no. Yes, it’s tough working to the speed of the retail world and it’s definitely a challenge meeting the demanding expectations. But it’s also bloody exciting to be creatively involved with iconic Australian retailers. We have an unprecedent- ed opportunity to bring creativity to the table on a far bigger scale than just advertising. This is because these retail giants’ businesses are undergoing massive change, the impact of which is only just beginning to be felt in Australia. What’s driving this retail revolution is the ever-increasing functional usefulness that digital technology is enabling. Most Australian retailers have slowly begun to integrate digital thinking into their marketing plans. But the truth is that some retailers in other markets are many steps ahead. They are paying attention to how their customers are using new tech- nologies and then investing in utilis- ing this behaviour to help increase their sales. Nowhere is this more apparent than in how they are embracing the social shopping phenomena. What is social shopping? A few years ago the answer was pretty simple – essentially it was defined as being collaborative ‘crowd’ shop- ping driven by anonymous reviews and rankings. Why retailers are pay- ing so much attention is really dri- ven by three ongoing trends. Firstly, the vast majority of us are now comfortable buying online. In fact, last year 85 per cent of Internet users - virtually all of us –shopped online over Christmas (Source: Getprice.com.au in partner- ship with Core Data). Secondly, pur- chase decisions are being influenced by peer reviews like never before with 55 per cent of us now actively seek out reviews before making any significant purchase (Source: Power Review’s 5 Social Shopping Trends. May 2010). But it’s the third one that’s really making social shopping such a hot topic. More powerful than even peer recommendations is the advo- cacy of your personal social circle. Previously retailers such as Amazon and eBay enjoyed massive success by enticing their customers to buy with recommendations based on algorithms, predictive modeling and peer reviews. This phenomenon - let’s call it ‘collective social search’ - is a centerpiece of the online shop- ping experience. But increasingly it’s facing competition from social shopping, which can be loosely defined as ‘friend-filtered social search’. It’s driven by a simple truth: people trust their friends’ and family’s opinions more than any data, algorithms or strangers. For instance, let’s say you’re in the market for a new laptop and you’re stuck deciding between three brands. In the past you’d have access to the entire purchase history and written reviews of a site like eBay to help make your decision. The problem is that you somehow have to filter the huge amount of noise and decide which reviews you trust the most. Even though the reviewers have real names and have rating histories, most of us will never have the same emotional ‘spark’ as what we get from a friend’s recommendation. The consolidation of key social media players such as Facebook and Twitter, with their massive user bases, has made it easier for retail- ers to facilitate social shopping using their customers’ immediate networks. It’s now possible to bring social recommendations to you wherever you may be, and from people you trust. There are hundreds of players flooding the social shopping space. Companies such as Epinions, Kaboodle, StyleHive, Shoppero, StuffPit, RedTagCrazy, Zebo, TheFind, IlikeTotallyLoveIt ... the list goes on and on. And they are getting an awful lot of traffic. Epinions attracts over three million visitors a month and even a smaller player like Zebo has a healthy 49,000 visits a month. Such prodigious data-mining capability is nirvana for retailers. It’s fascinating to see the contrast- ing approaches the social shopping sites have employed. For example, Kaboodle allows users to create a profile and invite friends and family to join their net- work. Basically you ‘shopmark’ the things you’re thinking of purchasing and then share them with other users. Kaboodle allows you to mark your pages as public or concentrate on building a network solely of friends and family. With over 2.5 million visitors a month (and according to Nielson data, over 200,000 in Australia) you can imagine the potential for some of Australia’s biggest retailers with their massive databases to start something similar. Having said that, the limitation of Kaboodle is that you and your friends and the things you are going to buy all exist in one place. In other words, a social shopping silo. In contrast, RunToShop (a small Finnish startup) has taken the exact opposite approach and created a distributed social network model. This means that if you’re shop- ping for a new car on CarSales, for example, recommendations will be embedded on the site through the RunToShop widget. You invite friends to comment via Facebook Connect and the widget prioritises their recommendations. In fact, if Facebook is your thing then RunToGo promises to seam- lessly integrate with it via an app that allows you to browse product offerings and friends’ recommenda- tions in the environment you feel most comfortable in. At the same time, its distributed social network- ing platform allows your product reviews to appear on other sites where the product you like appears. If your best mate in London discov- ers something you’ve reviewed on another site, they can see your rec- ommendation right there. The truth is that none of the sites I’ve reviewed are perfect (RunTo Shop is very much in its infancy), but they’re getting better every day and to my mind, point to pretty exciting times ahead for Australian retailers and their agencies. I recently saw a great comment from someone in response to an article on social shopping. They were talk- ing about the need for an emotional connection to drive their purchase decision. She summed it up by writing, “I want to be inspired, intrigued and entertained when I shop online”. What more could a creative ask for? Shopping with friendsismore fun Fresh from the agency winning the David Jones account, Gavin McLeod, creative director of M&C Saatchi’s Mark, Sydney, discusses the move towards social shopping. This phenomena of collaborative ‘crowd’ shopping driven by product reviews and rankings is fast catching on, providing opportunities to bring creativity to the table on a far bigger scale than just advertising. There are hundreds of players flooding the social shopping space. Companies such as Epinions, Kaboodle, StyleHive, Shoppero, StuffPit, RedTagCrazy, Zebo, TheFind, IlikeTotallyLoveIt ... the list goes on and on
May June 2010