A roundup of technology-driven tools that drive consumer understanding, engagement and conversion on every step of the path to purchase.
- Beauty retailer Sephora ran a contest to select a group of beauty influencers to represent them officially as the “Sephora Squad,” reportedly gathering 16,000 applications and having those applicants share out hundreds of thousands of videos on YouTube and Instagram – enabling Sephora to track their followers and engagement levels. The chosen influencers earn a paid contract with Sephora as well as personalized products to share out with their specific audience bases. Sephora also will throw networking events for the influencers to get together, coach them on content and collaborate with them on videos. It’s an interesting way to truly be transparent between the retailer and influencer community, as well as deepen the relationship between the two. The retailer used its social channels to promote the contest and announce updates.
- Yolo, a new mobile app built in association with Snapchat and its Snap Kit platform, is becoming popular among teens, reaching the top download spot for Apple apps in just its first week. The app works with a Snapchat login and Bitmoji profile photo and enables users to include anonymous messaging onto their Snapchat post. A user can post a question they want anonymous users to respond to or they can send anonymous questions to another Snapchat user. There have been comparable apps like YikYak and Sarahah in the past. Considering the anonymity, there are concerns of cyberbullying and it’s unclear if it will accept advertising or how brands can get involved. A startup called Popshow Inc. developed the app and couldn’t be reached for comment.
- A data analytics firm called LatentView Analytics, Princeton, New Jersey, announced enhanced capabilities to its SmartInsights platform. The platform uses artificial intelligence to help consumer goods brands predict trends such as what ingredients are hot in food and beverage or emerging trends in health and beauty. It now is said to help speed up the full R&D cycle of a product, for example identify what companies own patents, help prepare patents, point out potential challenger brands and more. Other features of the program include finding influencers and influences around a product or category, and a brand company can generate predictions without applying a hypothesis.
- As one part of its summer program, PepsiCo’s Pepsi is empowering its bottles with an AR experience on Instagram. Shoppers scan a QR code with their mobile phones on the summer-themed bottles with fun phrases – “Tropic Like It’s Hot,” “Turnt Not Burnt,” and “Call Me On My Shell Phone” – that open up Instagram Stories and present a unique AR filter. Pepsi made hundreds of filters. When a shopper applies the filter to their Instagram video, they must put #Summergram and then they can share it out with friends. Additionally, Pepsi created digital stickers that can be added to texts or messages. The campaign will also include 25 TV ads that highlight the AR experience. Outdoor billboards, and social posts on Pepsi’s Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts will tout the #Summergram program.
- The first new summer campaign in six years for Coca-Cola Co. is a package-driven program that puts scannable codes onto bottles and cans. Consumers scan the codes with the Coca-Cola mobile app, giving them a chance to win prizes such as tickets to concerts, movies, amusement parks and baseball games, as well as a chance to meet the U.S. women’s soccer team, which competed in (and won) the World Cup. Coca-Cola ran a campaign around its support for the team, including limited-edition wristbands for purchase, and the scannable bottles also have colorful wristbands that are peeled off the bottles. The brand supported the sweepstakes with a full-scale TV, print, cinema, social, radio and digital ad program.
- Beiersdorf has expanded its data and analytics relationship with Nielsen by being the first brand in the health and beauty category to leverage Nielsen Connect, an open-source system that integrates data from multiple streams, teams and partners into one place. The system takes in past data and marries it with predictive analysis to deliver category insights, suggested product decisions and more. By connecting all sources of the brand’s data into one place and dashboard, Nielsen Connect is said to speed up business for Beiersdorf, according to a press release.
- While physical Dash buttons will still work for those who continue to use them, Amazon has ended its physical Dash button product, turning it into a virtual button that users click to instantly reorder goods. The Dash button launched four years ago with brands such as Tide (users could stick it to a washing machine, for example), and when a consumer pushed the button it automatically communicated a reorder to the user’s mobile phone. The same idea applies to the virtual dash buttons that resemble the physical ones except they’re arranged on a dash button homepage seen on the mobile phone, desktop or the Echo Show to have Alexa trigger the dash button reorder. The virtual buttons can be seen on touchscreens for Samsung smart refrigerators, as well.
- Couponing and engagement app Ibotta has announced its first mobile payment capability called “Pay with Ibotta” that instantly gives Ibotta users the ability to pay for their shopping within the app and instantly earn cash back to their synced credit card from coupons and rewards. Here’s how the app works: when a shopper buys a pair of shoes at Nike, for example, they click or enter the product amount in the app and receive a QR code to have a cashier scan at checkout that will automatically put cash back into their account. There are more than 30 retailers participating with Ibotta for this payment feature including The Home Depot, Game Stop, Banana Republic, Chipotle, Ulta Beauty, Gap and Regal Cinemas.
- NBCUniversal, which has activated TV commercials as a way to buy product right then and there, announced a new feature that it’s calling “ShoppableTV.” For participating advertisers, a QR code will be featured on screen for viewers to scan with their mobile phone cameras. They’ll be instantly directed to the advertiser’s site to buy. Before the code surprises on screen, a phone notification is sent to connected viewers alerting them to an “On-Air Shoppable Moment.” The network of TV stations includes channels such as NBC, NBC Sports, Telemundo, Bravo, E!, CNBC Prime and USA Network – all will be hosting these live ad experiences. Four years ago, Shazam app users (now owned by Apple) similarly could buy from TV ads after scanning a Shazam icon.