Until the pandemic struck, brands were noticeably embracing plans to boost their presence online. However, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has put these plans into warp-speed as companies have rushed to keep their businesses afloat and cater to consumers who have mostly been confined indoors. To wit, one estimate states that the ecommerce sector has seen 10 years of progress in 10 months, with ecommerce growing at 27% in 2020.
While this growth may be welcome across the industry, one segment, creativity, has struggled to cope with this red-hot pace of evolution. If creative marketers have traditionally been at the centre of any industry's marketing and advertising evolution, in the case of ecommerce, they have been sidelined, says Josh Gallagher, global head of Commerce Consulting, MediaCom. "In recent years, creativity has unquestionably been sidelined, as media teams have found new ways to get results by simply putting average work into more relevant spaces," he told attendees at Spikes Asia x Campaign. "It's an industry that has seduced creative marketers into believing in the short term only, an obsession with driving sales velocity is upon us."
So, will commerce kill creativity?
Already, industry executives such as Gallagher are worried that creativity could slide down the same slippery slope as programmatic media. While ecommerce has made a deep impact on brands and marketing in the past 12 months or more, Gallagher contends that "we can't let commerce go down the same road as programmatic media, where the conversation is more about technology than talent and more about cost than connection with consumers."
To try to halt creativity's slide, he says the industry needs to "alter the view that companies have viewed digital market places in largely transactional terms –channels to sell products and not delivery brand experiences." Then, they need to change product descriptions to product experiences and finally, brands and marketers must lean on a combination of conversion, communities and convenience to bring creativity back to a position of strength. According to Gallagher, creatives need to act quickly to stem the losses. "Creativity is lowering its importance as contribution of media impact on sales is only increasing, as markets look for immediate impact."
He lists some brands that have begun to make significant inroads in this direction. For example, KFC Australia used friends to unlock a secret menu and have a strong impact on app downloads and sales. "It's not just influencers, it is every day people adding magic into conversion," he claims.
Conversational commerce is another emerging opportunity for creatives to consider. "Conversational commerce is on the cusp of taking over and an opportunity to supercharge creativity, moving moving from selling to and engaging with retailers to selling to and engaging with your consumers by making your brand tip of tongue," Gallagher adds.
In terms of conversion, the main focus is how to incentivise people to buy, by being relevant. "It's really a shift from one size fits all to personal relevance, which has seen a shift in purchase intent by up to 25%," he says. One brand that has been to pivot under the current pandemic is Bose for its noise cancelling headphones, where it linked the noise being generated at home (and recorded on an app called Boise Noise-o-Meter) with discounts for the product.
Overall for creatives, to try to reverse course, the MediaCom executive suggests that brands must repair broken omni channel experiences and communicate a distinct value at the point of sale. "To do this you need to harness brand strategy to spark preference and purchase," Gallagher notes. "The key is to deliver convenience and one click consumer journeys with creative storytelling that puts brand experience on the digital shelf."
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