As Rishad Tobaccowala, Publicis Groupe’s Strategy and Growth Officer once said, “The world may be digital, but people are analog.” Humans are still carbon-based, analog feeling things, and no matter how much around us has been increasingly digitalised, we are hardwired to relate to stories and constantly seek meaning, emotions and inspiration.
By taking the human-centred approach, we are coming back full circle to where it all began with marketing—human experiences and storytelling at the heart of their messages. In the age where consumers mistrust advertising, real-world people and stories are integral to communicating authenticity and re-building consumer trust and confidence.
In a nutshell, the human experience is the alchemy of people and technology that creates experiences people love and actions brands need. Keeping it simple is vital to how this strategy works; marketing decisions need to lead with human beings but use data to power them in order to introduce unique and better thinking that also ties to brand and business outcomes at the same time. With peoples’ wants and brands’ needs increasingly shifting out of alignment, an opportunity is emerging for brands to create these intersections.
Samsung's Galaxy S8 gets personal
We embedded human experience to life when we used data to drive personal sales with Samsung’s Galaxy S8. One of its key innovations is the Infinity Display (bezel-less display), an engineering marvel that calls for users to ‘Unbox their Phone’. We challenged ourselves to drive better media efficiencies and results. We proceed to ‘unbox’ digital display ad with over 30,000 creatives ad units and messaging, powered by data driven targeting to get personal with our prospects, bridging the key segments across different cultures in eight markets to showcase the brilliance that is the Galaxy S8.
The personalisation came from desired consumer lines so we created over 30,000 creative ads to target the personalised desired lines to precisely target consumers designed around four niche microsegments of consumers’ desired lines to path-to-purchase, “Galaxy S8 ‘Gets Personal’ with personalized audience content that suits their lifestyle. Data from past Galaxy S campaigns were used to benchmark new performance indicators to include cost spend on a landing site; audience to spend >5 seconds on site; and audience who clicked “Where to Buy”. Carefully crafted data driven strategies which included third party data, affinity and contextual keyword segments. This allowed us to target the right user with the right ad for increased relevancy.
Budweiser unmasks Halloween in China
Globally, Halloween has been identified as an adult-driven occasion and Budweiser was thirsty to own it as a cultural trend connected to Budweiser’s values. For the Chinese millennials, the spirit of Halloween is liberating, empowering them to surface their alter egos. Since they feel the most pressure from others’ expectations in life, Starcom inspired them to celebrate Halloween by ‘Partying on their own terms’. The connection strategy allowed them to ‘Join the World’s Biggest Halloween Party’, and provided an experience that drove consumption with pre-promotion to drive every registration and ecommerce promotion purchase.
A 3-week integrated communication campaign maximized the Budweiser Halloween across channels including disruptive OOH, moving haunted bars and a distinctively ownable Halloween ‘Bloodweiser’ product - a blood- colored beer within 12 highly-selected cities in China. We live streamed the Budweiser immersive events to scale Bud Halloween party nationally beyond those attending the offline events. In just 3 weeks Budweiser had a double-digit brand equity uplift, national penetration growth and over 2.2million US$ in earned media value in China.
The ways in which brands can reinvent their strategies are limitless with today’s technologies. By leveraging new concepts that transform how businesses engage with customers, for instance with mobile applications and virtual reality technologies, technology can make a difference in improving the scope of the marketing experience. As ironic as it may sound, technology can make marketing more human, portraying more desire lines of consumers as they get closer to purchase. Leveraging Big Data to help map and optimise customer journeys can benefit businesses engage with customers better and create meaningful customer touchpoints. Brands will also find that data can fuel creativity when it comes to brand-customer interaction.
Bringing the human experience to life
Making the shift to a human experience company is a not an easy feat. For companies which are predominantly product-centric, it is challenging to bring the human experience into the DNA of the organisation.
Brands need to focus on telling a story rather than a product. While marketers tend to focus on communicating their product information and features to customers, what should be done instead is building a narrative where the product or brand is at the centre of the story. Great campaigns should also naturally entice its audience to share it with others. Understanding your audience’s sharing habits will prompt them to spread the word about your campaign organically to reach a wider target group and stretch the advertising dollar.
Mini Clubman in China
In China, Mini Clubman faced a challenge to capture their core target audience: males 25-40 years in the upper middle income. 80% of MINI cars sold in China were purchased by females and was perceived as “cute”, “colourful” and low-cost performance. In order to refresh its brand image among men, Starcom created an impactful visual journey and invited them to discover the “manly” side of Mini without being perceived as a “hipster” brand.
To drive the campaign, we collaborated with Esquire to bring the concept of the “New Gentleman”- a quintessentially urbane, understated style just like the Mini Clubman. We first selected key opinion leaders to represent our New Gentleman’s image and built on their stories in key Fashion and Entertainment channels. Through technology, particularly, live streaming platforms, we asked consumers to be part of their journey from photoshoots to behind the scene interviews. For the first time, Esquire released 4 cover versions featuring each of the “New Gentlemen” and a 64-page special on their actual interviews, shoot and the Mini Clubman. Lastly, we held a 2-day on-ground photo exhibition in one of the hippest parts of Beijing, featuring the New Gentlemen and Mini Clubman.
The entire campaign created massive buzz with record-breaking live streaming views from male audiences (a platform usually dominated by females), over 500,000 engagements and 45 Million + content clicks. Furthermore, the exhibition held in Beijing Sanlitun generated new signups and sales.
Possibly the most important element of the human experience design is beginning at the start and end with the customer, which marketers are now referring to as the ‘Audit Trail of human experience’. Tracking the whole customer journey to understand their preferences allows brands to curate experiences tailored to the customer and deliver timely, relevant content to them, informed by technology. Employing behavioural-based analytics is also essential in being a step ahead of the competition.
The final frontier: right where it all began
Brands today are upping the stakes when it comes to building the golden customer experience. Advertising based on repetition, interruption or brute ubiquity just won’t cut it anymore. Today’s customers are experiential and it is crucial for brands to be able to create memories in order to win their attention and trust.
Strong customer loyalty through memorable and personal experiences with brands has become the ‘holy grail’ and brands are gravitating towards the human experience design to achieve that. To create customer connections that truly count, there is a need to place people at the heart of all marketing decisions and develop a truly people-focussed business.
Caterina Camerata is head of strategy, Greater China, Starcom, and Youli Hooi is head of strategy, Starcom Singapore.