Monthly Archives: March 2015

How important is digital and retail experience for brands?

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Now in its second year, new Shopper Tribes research from Gekko has found that fewer shoppers are researching products online before buying in-store, with numbers falling by 7% over the past year.

As buying behaviours become more complex, with consumers increasingly taking a multi-channel approach when purchasing goods, the relationship between the digital and retail experience is ever more important for brands.

Recent research conducted by Epson Europe  found that the majority of UK purchases are still made in-store, with 55% still visiting the high street when making considered purchases. However, the gap is closing, with online sales in the UK making up the largest share in Europe, 7% above the average.

The study also found that 20% of shoppers used mobile devices whilst in-store to make purchases online. Rather than purchase in retail, these shoppers preferred to use the high street to guide their online purchases.

With smartphones now in almost every pocket, shoppers are becoming more connected in-store, increasingly using their devices to compare prices on the shop floor.

Gekko identified that younger generations are also increasingly using social media to guide their shopping experience, with 14% of 18 to 35 year olds using Facebook to ‘check-in’ to stores, and 15% using social media to discuss products with friends.

While brand engagement over social media is far less prevalent among older generations, they are increasingly using online research to aid in their purchasing decisions, with 58% of those 55 and over making use of online research before making purchases in-store. Across the generations, the online experience, be that through social media or product research, is becoming more of an influence on shoppers in relation to those rewarding considered purchases.

Although fewer consumers on average are researching online before buying in-store, the importance of a omni-channel approach remains clear for brands. Although nearly half of sales are now made online, a figure which will likely increase, the primary motivation for consumers for shopping in-store remains: ‘the ability to see and touch the product’. This desire to engage in the brand experience is common with considered purchasing decisions associated with high ticket consumer electronics and luxury brands.

The benefits of the in-store experience can outweigh the convenience of shopping online. Brands need to combine their approach with seamless branding between online and in-store, streamlining the overall brand experience for consumers.

Matching online branding in-store can assist sales by improving product recall, and likewise employing brand ambassadors to guide consumers through the in-store journey can help convey the unique selling points of your products.

By using an integrated approach, brands can guide the shopper journey from ATL or online to in-store, converting shoppers into customers of your brand.

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Is Apple about to be given a bloody nose by the real watchmakers?

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At this year’s Baselworld watch fair in Switzerland, smartwatches were in abundance fusing the traditional with the modern. But are traditional luxury brands running scared of the impending Apple Watch, or just being coy and know that those of us that like our watches will never succumb to the mundane?

In a market where Swiss watches make up just under 3% of the market but over 50% of its value, the fight is on and something tells me it’s going to be good.

We had announcements from established watch houses such as Frederique Constant with its Android & iOS enabled, and keen priced, Horological Smartwatch. Tag Heuer in partnership with Google and Intel also announced something exciting that will be Android based, and likely an excellent product.

Will.I.Am and Gucci announced a smart band that will work independently to your phone thanks to 3G, and Brietling with its B55 referencing its heritage, pilots, who legally need to record all their flying times. My personal favourite is the Mondaine Helvetica 1 creating a minimalist smartwatch that looks quite simply classic and beautiful in every way.

All these brands have one thing in common: they are coveted by collectors and true followers of fashion alike who appreciate the intricacies of a Swiss timepiece and don’t want to lose that appeal for the sake of technology.

A luxury time piece is not only an item of personal joy to the wearer but also an expression of your style and taste. The odds of bumping into someone else on any given day, wearing your IWC Portofino, TAG Monza, Rolex Airking etc. are long.

With analysts forecasting Apple Watch units totalling 14 million in FY15, the likelihood is that before long that Apple Watch you so coveted is the antithesis of cool and no longer unique as millions of others share the same wrist jewellery, and your odds of being cool are now very short.

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MWC 2015: Is It More of the Same or Change for the Sake of Change?

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Mobile brands, including carriers and social media grandees such as Mark Zuckerberg, are in Barcelona at MWC15 to announce, prophesise, and speculate on what we as consumers will want, or think we need, in the form of mobile devices and the connected landscape. It’s true to say that we are a generation that relies on our mobile devices, even to the extent that we feel naked without a device to access the web 24/7. This now extends to wearables for fitness, virtual reality, gaming, and next, our virtual wallet and transport.

Next week at its March 9th ‘Spring Forward’ event, and as ever separately to every other brand, Apple will likely launch the Apple Watch to a global audience who may just be underwhelmed considering the announcement of advances in Android-based wearables demonstrated by HTC, Huawei, LG and Sony to name a few at MWC15. Underwhelmed is perhaps unlikely based on consumer enthusiasm, but the exclusive snapshot of the Apple Watch given by Lisa Armstrong, Telegraph Fashion Editor, demonstrates that Apple is offering what every brand must deliver to its consumers — choice. Apple offers choice of styles, straps, and faces, and of course the Edition variant in 18ct rose or yellow gold for those who like their wearables with a bit of bling. One thing these new arrivals, Apple included, all have in common is that they start to transcend the chasm of tech into fashion. They look great, work effectively, and are worthy cost-effective options (with the exception of Apple) that will further ignite the wearables market.


But who’s copying who? Fashion brands such as Guess, and luxury watch brands like Tag and Mont Blanc, have made their intentions clear and some could argue are being driven by tech brands. However, why should tech need to look traditional to enable adoption, especially if it only works when I remember to charge it? Where is the value, efficiency, and worth?

On the other hand, we may be blown away by our friends in Cupertino. We have more to digest such as those car rumours in which Google is further ahead in realising, as are some of the more forward-thinking automobile brands. Volvo, for example, is exploring connected car services and is announcing a trial launch, progressing its published plan to create a fleet of driverless cars by 2017.

It’s an obvious move to connect our devices to our transportation – our devices will soon show us how to get to our destination and then take us there in the most efficient manner. Easier said than done, as we all know the pitfalls of satellite navigation. Does a driverless car have the potential to become annoying like a cab driver who is lost, can’t drive, or drives dangerously? Without exception, any mobile or wearable device that connects with our vehicle and 3rd-party applications, like social media, are going to involve advertising, data, and subscriptions, further sacrificing the joy of a quiet and peaceful drive home.


With connected devices creating more opportunities for brands, every manufacturer understands that they need to have a cross-category approach to devices including phones, wearables, and VR, which is evident from the announcements made at MWC15. As the technology develops, however, brands also need to create amazing, intuitive, and secure software to encourage us to part with more of our tangible assets and transactions, in order to communicate and live virtually.

Are we ready or would we rather, brands included, slow down the pace? Technology is moving so rapidly that innovations are becoming obsolete before they have a chance to become a recognised part of history. The hardware needed to operate these innovations can become redundant sooner thus creating obvious problems in disposal as we can’t indefinitely deal with it by sending it off our shores to become someone else’s problem. Our perceived need to demand more out of our devices, brands, and lifestyles compounded with being forced to update, upgrade, and adopt as a result of market forces may be what drives us to come to a full circle and look for a device that allows a simpler and more traditional private life; unlikely but not impossible.

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Is it too late for BlackBerry’s return to the touchscreen mobile market?

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With Mobile World Congress in Barcelona almost at an end, last night Blackberry chief executive John Chen surprisingly announced BlackBerry’s re-entry into the touchscreen mobile market with the ‘Leap’, joining the recent classic keyboard models, with another three variants to come in 2015.

With an estimated 1,000 smartphones being shipped globally every minute compared to nothing less than a decade ago, can Blackberry reignite enthusiasm – not only amongst new customers, but those die hard brand advocates?

Blackberry shipped 7.9 million phones last year according to a Gartner study, six times less than in 2011 (51.1m).

The brand certainly still deserves some credence, after all it continues to dominate in the B2B sector and has suffered fewer embarrassing privacy leaks than some rivals.

This time, Blackberry will provide access to its services on iOS, Android and Windows phones for a fee as ‘experience suites’, which all sounds very complicated.

With hungry competitors like Microsoft, LG and Motorola bringing similar mid-range devices with more innovations and greater advertising spend to the market, can Blackberry continue to trade on good will and is its market now too business centric to be relevant to make the ‘Leap’?

I hope it’s not too late for Blackberry – it paved the way for the globe’s current top two players who most certainly copied what Blackberry created, and did it well with lesser products but great advertising and brand advocacy.

To survive in my view, Blackberry must once again focus hard on its brand, values, heritage and innovation in a manner which appeals to both more established and emerging demographics.

It needs to stay in the game and keep the competition fresh to offer more choice to both business and consumers.

I guarantee that every mobile carrier wants to see Blackberry survive to ensure certain brands have less control over their business models and a broad spread of brands to partner with now, tomorrow and long-term.


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