October 28, 2015

Dear Consumers: Big Brands Are Officially Listening

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One of the simplest, most significant trends we’ve observed is the rise of authentic responsive action in today’s world; that is, big brands and businesses are not only listening to their audiences, but  delivering on those products, services and experiences to satisfy delighted customers. We’ve done a roundup of some of the standout instances below.

PSLs with real pumpkin

Since the inception of the seasonal drink, the nutritional information of the PSL has been cast in shadow. Brands can take a page from Starbucks’ book this fall, and address the negative press: 2015 marks the first year that the autumn-synonymous beverage will be made with real pumpkin and without artificial coloring. Risking the flavor profile of possibly the most famous fall drink is a bold move, but the consumer cries for transparency and authenticity essentially forced the brand to react. Whether or not the drink improves (or even remotely satisfies the vocal critics), Starbucks wins, having publicly addressed, recognized and delivered on giving their customers what they want.

Nike appeals to the average joe

Nike’s latest spot, “Last” (from Wieden + Kennedy), is somewhat of a tonal shift from the brand’s extensive history of kick-ass, no excuses advertising. With this somewhat demure piece, however, they’ve perfectly nailed the doubtful inner voice of the ‘casual athlete,’ focusing on the dead-last runner in a marathon. Mixing one part slightly self-deprecating humor with two parts motivated determination, Nike highlights this ‘casual marathoner’ concept. Brands are taking risks when they put their historic credibility on the line to expand their audience. By aligning with this responsive casual demographic, Nike gives fans and potential audiences alike a new opportunity to visualize themselves as part of the iconic brand story. Nike has had a successful 2015, continuing a consecutive 13 quarters of growth (NA sales rose 8%, and sales in China by 30%).

Pinterest folds in e-commerce

Pinterest doesn’t consider itself social media. Michael Yamartino, head of commerce, describes the platform as “a broader discovery service than that.” Pinterest, currently in partnership with five e-commerce companies, is addressing the demand for the feature by adding 30 million new Buyable pins (effectively doubling the number that debuted in June). The feature is incredibly useful – by bridging the gap between a piece of content and an obtainable product, brands are reaching new, potentially untapped audiences and converting them into customers. Says Yamartino, “When you enable buyable pins, you’re actually selling to all sorts of people who have never made a connection to your brand before. It’s really more about the content than the actual product you’re selling.”

Facebook gets a ‘dislike’ button?

Finally, Facebook is officially responding to a notion that has existed since the platform began: that is, offering responses other than the ‘like’. The company has announced it will begin testing its new ‘Reactions’ feature in Ireland and Spain, before eventually rolling it out across all territories. What might this mean for businesses? Richard Sim, Facebook’s director of monetization product marketing, says “Reactions gives businesses a really crisp way of understanding on a multi-dimensional level how people are feeling about the things that they’re posting.”