Ralph Lauren Creates Virtual Replicas Of Its Physical Stores

Ralph Lauren has launched a series of virtual experiences in response to pandemic-driven shopping behavior, including digital replicas of four of its brick-and-mortar stores, an augmented reality (AR) experience via Snapchat as well as a shoppable virtual game on its website and Facebook Messenger’s Instant Games.

Ralph Lauren saw promising results when it tested a virtual version of its Beverly Hills store this fall—virtual foot traffic was 10 times higher than the number of people who would have visited the storefront, reports WWD. In response, the brand created virtual versions of its stores in New York, Paris and Hong Kong. Shoppers can virtually walk around in each store, where current-season items and vintage pieces are available to buy.

The brand has also teamed with Snapchat to create a series of AR experiences that users can unlock by scanning the Polo Pony logo from apparel, printed materials, digital executions, shopping bags and ads. David Lauren, vice chairman and chief innovation officer, told WWD that it took eight months to develop the technology.

The AR initiative follows the success of the brand’s Snapchat-enabled Bitmoji Collection, which enabled consumers to mix and match branded garments inspired by real-life designs. In Q2, over 10 million users dressed their Bitmoji in Ralph Lauren and tried on the collection over 250 million times.

The third component to Ralph Lauren’s digital holiday offerings is a shoppable virtual game called The Holiday Run, in which the brand’s signature Polo Bear races to physical Ralph Lauren stores worldwide, discovering and collecting new products. Fans around the world can play the game on Ralph Lauren’s website or through Messenger’s Instant Games. Next month, Ralph Lauren will bring the game to life via a live Twitch event featuring major gamers from the UK, France and Germany

Ralph Lauren’s heavy digital investment comes as the company has been struggling with financial fallout from the pandemic. Its Q1 performance update revealed a dip in sales, with North America revenue seeing the biggest decline at 77 percent, followed by a 67 percent drop in Europe and a 34 percent decrease in Asia. Revenue plummeted 66 percent year-over-year to $487.5 million.

In September, the company, which has 530 stores, announced it would cut 15 percent of its global workforce.

To help stay afloat, it started offering virtual client selling and appointment booking, buy online pick up in-store, curbside pickup, mobile checkout and contactless payments.

Its digital efforts paid off in Q2, when email campaigns with predictive artificial intelligence and high-reach paid social media helped add more than 1 million new customers to its direct-to-consumer platforms alone.

Chipotle Launches Sustainability Impact Tracker For Digital Orders

Chipotle has introduced a new feature on its app and website called Real Foodprint that details the brand’s supply chain practices and shows the sustainability impact of customers’ digital orders, which they can share on Twitter.

The sustainability impact tracker compares average values for each of Chipotle’s 53 ingredients to their conventional counterparts against five key metrics provided by independent research company HowGood.

Chipotle enlisted Bill Nye the Science Guy to demonstrate how the Real Foodprint feature works in his latest TikTok video where he plays both the part of a Chipotle patron and employee. Within six hours, the video amassed  237,700 likes and nearly 2,400 comments.

When placing orders on Chipotle’s app or website, the order confirmation message will display data on environmental savings based on averages for the ingredients that comprise a customer’s order. Those savings include less carbon in the atmosphere, gallons of water saved, improved soil health, organic land supported and antibiotics avoided. Customers can share their order’s tracker results on Twitter.

To determine the impact each Chipotle ingredient has on the environment and animal welfare, HowGood collects information from Chipotle’s suppliers and over 450 data sources like peer-reviewed scientific literature, industry findings and research from government and non-governmental organizations such as the United States Department of Agriculture, World Health Organization and the United States Food & Drug Administration.

According to its latest earnings report, Chipotle’s sales surged 14.1 percent from last year to a quarterly record of $1.6 billion as digital sales grew 202.5 percent and accounted for nearly half of total sales. However, its profit dropped 19 percent due in part to delivery expenses. Chipotle says its delivery fees don’t fully cover the commissions it pays to partners such as Grubhub and DoorDash.

Digital Drive-Thru Menus Expected At 10,000 Chains In The US And Canada By Mid 2022

Restaurant Brands International has announced that it’s testing digital drive-thru menu boards with loyalty program and remote, contactless payment integration at more than 10,000 Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons chains in the US and Canada by mid 2022.

The company says it plans to install more than 40,000 waterproof digital screens featuring predictive selling technology that allows for special offers to be tailored based on customers’ previous orders, weather patterns and the time of day. The technology can “learn preferred ordering habits” and will show the latest and trending menu items most-ordered in a customer’s location.

The 46-inch digital screens, powered by Stratacache Media Engines, are featured in 800 Tim Hortons locations in the US and Canada and 1,500 Burger King locations in the US. They’ll arrive at Popeyes chains later this year.

RBI is currently testing digital menu boards with integrated loyalty programs, enabled via scanning, bluetooth or near-field communication, at 30 Tim Hortons locations in Canada.

Immediate, remote contactless payment backed by Verifone will also be available through the digital menu boards. A Tim Hortons restaurant in Canada is home to the first prototype of this payment method, with 15 additional locations to test the functionality by January 2021.

To further increase the efficiency at its restaurants, RBI is installing, where possible, double drive-thru lanes at some locations.

RBI’s push to modernize the drive-thru experience comes as over 100,000 bars and restaurants have permanently closed due to the pandemic and many intact restaurants are slow to offer socially-distanced outdoor dining services.

According to research from The NPD Group, drive-thru restaurant visits surged by 26 percent in Q2. Even as more restaurants reopened in July, drive-thru visits increased by 13 percent.

Rapid digital transformation has enabled brands to adapt to the crisis and will be a strategic necessity to thrive during the process of an economic recovery. But with automation comes large amounts of data and therefore, risk, especially with the enactment of data privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Remaining agile in the new normal will require brands to invest in automation tools that not only enhance consumer experiences but also protect their privacy.

Product Detail Pages Have Biggest Influence On Online Purchases

Ecommerce will grow by 22 percent this year as shoppers increasingly favor online over in-person. While the pandemic has prompted many consumers to tighten their budgets, a new study from Kantar and Catalyst shows that online shoppers prioritize convenience over price when deciding where to shop. In fact, 66 percent of consumers choose a retailer based on convenience, while 47 percent choose a retailer based on price and value.

With perspectives from 500 online shoppers, 200 marketers, 24 leading manufacturers plus major retailers, Kantar’s “The State of Ecommerce 2021” offers insight into navigating the new world of omnichannel commerce and retail media.

The ecommerce consumer journey to purchase is more complex than ever as shoppers use a mix of retailer sites, traditional search engines and social media platforms. According to Kantar’s findings, 37 percent of online shoppers rely on retailer sites and apps more than any other touchpoint during the shopping process.

Among those who used a variety of touchpoints before buying, 50 percent searched for inspiration on Instagram and 50 percent discovered new products or brands on Google. Sixty-three percent of shoppers did their initial product research on Amazon and 63 percent compared products or prices on Walmart.com.

Brick-and-mortar still has a role to play in the era of digital transformation, as 31 percent said an offline touchpoint helped them make their buying decision, reflecting the importance of omnichannel approaches.

Among those who went to a retailer’s website or app, 48 percent said they did so as the first pre-shop touchpoint, while for those that did an internet search, 46 percent did so first.

The main reason shoppers choose a retailer for a product purchase is convenience (66 percent), followed by shoppability (57 percent), value assortment (52 percent), price/value (47 percent) and lastly, service (36 percent).

Product detail pages (PDPs) are key to driving conversion as 45 percent of online shoppers indicated that they visited a PDP at the time of purchase. Respondents also ranked PDPs as having the biggest influence on their purchase. In addition, 49 percent of online purchasers reported scrolling past the first page to look for what they want. This rate is higher for millennials (56 percent) and Gen X (54 percent) online shoppers.

Despite the significance of PDPs, just 37 percent of ecommerce professionals focus on optimizing their PDPs for search engine optimization (SEO) across the online platforms they use for digital marketing.

Consumers plan on using online delivery services more in 2021. For example, among those who used Instacart, 63 percent plan to use the service more in the future. The same goes for users of Deliv, Prime, Postmates, Shipt and DoorDash.

When asked about the utility of digital ads, 54 percent of those exposed to an ad or promo while shopping online said they were helpful reminders of something they needed. As a group, 20 percent of total online shoppers said advertising is helpful to them while shopping.

Social commerce will be critical for brands looking to reach younger audiences as 59 percent of online shoppers are aware of social commerce and 61 percent are likely to buy from social media in the future. Brands are responding accordingly—19 percent of marketers reported large increases in their social media ad budgets, followed by email marketing (15 percent), YouTube ads (13 percent) and paid search (12 percent).

“Now is the time to think about how to drive lifetime value, not likes, with social sites,” said Kieley Taylor, global vice president of social media for GroupM Services.

To enhance their cross-channel retail media approach, 72 percent of brands are actively utilizing Facebook for digital marketing activities, followed by Google (67 percent), Instagram (61 percent), Twitter (50 percent) and Amazon (49 percent).

The results show that many ecommerce marketers are leveraging a combination of in-house teams and agencies to manage channels such as Amazon, Target and Kroger. Agencies expect to shoulder more of brands’ retail media efforts with 56 percent saying they anticipate more requests for proposals (RFPs) in ecommerce and retail media this year.

“Agencies are acting as an arbitration layer between media owners, and brand investment budgets, comparing opportunities across platforms and channels to guide overall investment performance regardless of where the media is purchased or ultimately delivered,” said Todd Szahun, senior vice president of ecommerce and new retail at Kantar.

According to Kantar, 40 percent of industry professionals believe that improving the user experience will present the biggest opportunity in ecommerce marketing in the next five years. As a sign of companies’ growing commitment to ecommerce, 45 percent of marketers say they now have a clear and differentiated product portfolio strategy for ecommerce than they did two years ago.

Kantar’s findings are based on surveys fielded in April and interviews conducted between March and May.

Biden-Harris Launch Official Campaign Signs In ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’

Animal Crossing: New Horizon players can now decorate their islands with official Biden-Harris signs as part of the campaign’s larger effort to reach voters ahead of the 2020 election, according to The Verge.

Players can download four different sign designs in-game by scanning quick release (QR) codes through the Nintendo Switch Online app. Designs include two that feature the official Biden-Harris logo, one that features the “Jo” Pride logo and one that shows aviator sunglasses in red, white and blue.

To promote the virtual initiative, the campaign worked with gaming influencers who shared their gameplay with the signs.

“This is just the start of how we plan to engage players ahead of November as we’re already looking forward to rolling out more digital swag, voter education tools, and organizing efforts on Animal Crossing and other platforms,” Christian Tom, director of digital partnerships for the Biden campaign, told The Verge.

Animal Crossing became a lockdown hit after its latest game, New Horizons, launched on March 20. The game sold 11 million copies by the end of March, and an additional 1.6 million copies since then.

Appealing to gamers is one of many creative alternatives to in-person rallies and conventions for the Biden-Harris campaign. At the start of COVID-19 in March, Biden became the first Democratic candidate to hold a virtual town hall, a Facebook Live stream that amassed over 5,000 viewers.

Due to concerns over the pandemic, the Democratic National Convention was forced to pivot virtual via a mix of pre-recorded content and live streams from speakers’ homes. A total of 19.7 million people tuned in to the first night, down from 26 million in 2016, according to Nielsen data. The Biden campaign said 28.9 million Americans watched the DNC across television and digital platforms, including 10.2 million digital streams, as per Reuters.

Creating Human Connection In CX With Deloitte’s Tim Greulich

During this 218th episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Tim Greulich, managing director at Deloitte and the operational customer experience practice leader.

On the show today, we talk about the latest report from Deloitte Digital called “Creating Human Connection at Enterprise Scale.” We discuss why creating a human connection is essential in today’s service economy, how companies should be thinking about it, and why it’s so hard.

In our discussion of “Creating Human Connection at Enterprise Scale,” Greulich begins by discussing the big questions that inspired the report. He provides advice for companies that want to be more human. Greulich says, “I think it’s a recognition that people are complex.” We can design for this complexity and embrace it. The report found that when companies create strong relationships with their customers, they become more forgiving and price-insensitive over time. Relating to your customer can make you more competitive, and may even provide you with more data. Greulich says, “If used the right way, relating opens up a whole new set of information for your company.” We also discuss how this approach impacts your business results and the challenges of building relationships with customers.

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Tim’s path to Deloitte. 01:11
  • The impetus behind Deloitte’s latest report. 04:11
  • How companies can be more human. 05:39
  • The emotional component to Deloitte’s findings. 07:56
  • Designing flaws to create “wow” moments. 11:09
  • Is designing a great product or service enough? 11:32
  • How relationships affect business results. 13:53
  • Challenges in building relationships with customers. 15:10
  • Turning digital breadcrumb trails into something that comes off as more human. 17:57
  • Tim shares a defining experience. 22:00
  • Tim reflects on advice he would give to his younger self. 23:02
  • Tim shares about an impactful purchase he made in the last 6-12 months. 24:17
  • Are there any brands, companies, or causes that Tim follows that he thinks
  • other people should take notice of? 25:47
  • Tim’s take on the top opportunity and threat facing marketers today. 27:54

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Alan B. Hart is the creator and host of “Marketing Today with Alan Hart,” a weekly podcast where he interviews leading global marketing professionals and business leaders. Alan advises leading executives and marketing teams on opportunities around brand, customer experience, innovation, and growth. He has consulted with Fortune 100 companies, but he is an entrepreneur at his core, having founded or served as an executive for nine startups.

US Ecommerce Sales Will Surge 18% To $709.78 Billion In 2020

According to eMarketer’s updated ecommerce and retail spending forecast, US ecommerce sales will increase 18 percent to $709.78 billion this year—an all-time high since the researcher began calculating the metric in 2008—as a result of store closures and stay-at-home orders.

In February, eMarketer predicted total US retail sales would slightly grow by 2.8 percent to $5.621 trillion. However, due to COVID, total US retail sales will fall 10.5 percent to $4.894 trillion, a steeper decline than the 8.2 percent drop induced by the recession in 2009 and a level not seen since 2016. What’s more, total retail sales won’t rebound until 2022, when they’re expected to reach $5.549 trillion.

In addition to an 18 percent increase in growth, ecommerce will reach 14.5 percent of total retail sales in 2020, the biggest share increase in a single year. eMarketer predicts ecommerce sales will reach $765.17 billion in 2021 and $859.28 billion in 2022.

Food and beverage and health, personal care and beauty were the top two product categories growing the fastest pre-COVID-19. As consumers shift to online ordering, eMarketer has raised its forecast for food and beverage sales from 23.4 percent to 58.5 percent and health, personal care and beauty sales from 16.6 percent to 32.4 percent. Apparel and accessories will only grow 8.6 percent.

Maintaining the number one spot on the list of top 10 ecommerce retailers, Amazon will grow its market share by one percentage point to 38 percent. And, for the first time, Walmart will exceed eBay as the second US ecommerce retailer behind Amazon, with a projected increase of over 35 percent. As a result, Walmart will hold a 5.8 percent share of the ecommerce market in 2020. This will bump eBay to third, followed by Apple in fourth and Home Depot in fifth.

As ecommerce spending balloons, brick-and-mortar retail spending will continue to suffer, with an expected 14 percent decrease to $4.184 trillion.

Report: Marketers Optimistic That Privacy Regulations Will Positively Impact Personalization

Most marketers (85 percent) plan to increase the adoption of agile marketing in the next two years, according to Merkle’s Q2 2020 Customer Engagement Report, which explores how brands are pivoting operations during COVID-19, as well as how recent privacy regulations are positively impacting customer engagement.

In analyzing marketers’ organizational practices across agile adoption, Merkle found that 89 percent of marketers use agile methodology in some function or team, and nearly the same percentage (88 percent) use agile in their marketing practices in one way or another.

Larger companies have been practicing agile marketing the longest; of the group with annual revenue of more than $1 billion, 25 percent indicate agile usage for over 10 years. For lower revenue groups, agile usage was just seven percent.

The retail, financial, health and high-tech segments have shown the highest levels of agile planning, whereas travel, media and entertainment segments show a less mature adoption of agile.

When asked about the barriers to the adoption of agile marketing, 39 percent of respondents cited a lack of expertise, followed by 33 percent who expressed concerns about it disrupting their business.

While the recent passing of consumer data privacy regulations, marketers have been forced to rethink the way they leverage first-party data and build new processes to address compliance. Still, marketers say they’re confident that they can adhere to them.

In May 2018, the UK established the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), restricting how companies collect and manage consumer data. California followed suit when it affected the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) on January 1, 2020. Under the CCPA, brands must disclose data collection and sharing practices to customers, prohibiting them from selling personal data of consumers under the age of 16 without explicit consent. The CCPA also gives consumers the right to request to opt-out of the sale or sharing of their personal information and the right to request that their data be deleted.

Despite these limitations, 92 percent of respondents are confident in their ability to comply with privacy regulations. What’s more, 67 percent see recent privacy regulations as positively impacting marketing. Over half (54 percent) say privacy regulations have made them more aggressive in their efforts to acquire first-party data. As regulations give brands a better understanding of where their customer data comes from, they’re able to deliver more enhanced personalization.

First-party data remains a significant driver of personalization, but some use a combination: 41 percent of respondents say they use first- and third-party data for personalization. Thirty-seven percent say they only use first-party data, while 21 percent say they only use third-party data.

Merkle found that UK marketers choose first-party data most often, while US marketers use first- and third-party data together 11 percent more often than their UK counterparts.  The discrepancy could be due to long-established privacy regulations in the UK or indicate that US marketers are more mature in leveraging both types of data.

When asked which data policy components are most cornering to them, 40 percent chose keeping accurate inventory of customer data, and 27 percent chose notifying customers of how they’re using their data.

To help develop new capabilities to meet data regulations, 70 percent of respondents brought in marketing service providers, 53 percent hired legal support and 46 percent tapped a consultancy.

Through a channel lens, email (19 percent) and digital media (18 percent) are the most affected by privacy regulations. Respondents ranked point of sale (POS) the least affected.

In February, Merkle surveyed 400 marketers at major US and UK brands spanning various industries.

The State Of Digital Marketing In Q1 2020

Visits to brand sites generated by organic search fell 15 percent year over year and phones accounted for 52 percent of organic search visits in Q1, according to Merkle’s Q1 2020 Digital Marketing Report. The report explores how search ad spend levels trended by industry amid the pandemic, the state of organic search and paid social and why Amazon ad spend may rebound sooner than later.

Google search ad spend grew 11 percent year over year in Q1 2020, down from 16 percent growth in Q4 2019—the lowest growth Merkle has seen in the last eight years—while clicks rose nine percent and cost per click (CPC) increased two percent. Microsoft search ad spend grew to 18 percent year over year in Q1 2020 while clicks fell 11 percent year over year. Microsoft CPCs grew significantly due to a drop in traffic from phones in the past year.

After generating 29 percent of Google Shopping ad clicks among participating brands in Q4 2019, Google Local Inventory Ad (LIAs) generated just 23 percent of Shopping clicks in Q1 2020, the lowest rate physical advertisers have seen for the format since Q3 2018. LIA click share dropped to zero by the end of Q1.

The pandemic has negatively impacted travel search budgets as Google search ad spend by travel advertisers fell 21 percent year over year in Q1, down from a 17 percent growth in Q4 2019; whereas retail Google search spend grew 13 percent in Q1.

Overall, desktop click share in Q1 fell one point to 32 percent while phone click share rose from 61 percent in Q4 2019 to 64 percent in Q1 2020. Phones produced 44 percent of total search ad spend in Q1, up from 38 percent in 2019.

Google and Microsoft saw opposing trends for device click share. Phones generated 67 percent of Google search ad clicks for Q1 while they generated 23 percent for Microsoft. Desktop share of Google clicks was 29 percent in Q1 while the same for Microsoft was 71 percent.

Excluding Instagram, Facebook ad spend grew 19 percent year over year in Q1, up from 15 percent in Q4 2019. Ad spend on Instagram grew 39 percent year over year in Q1, up from 38 percent growth in Q4 2019. Instagram accounted for 27 percent of total spend and 34 percent of impressions across both platforms for brands running ads. In addition, Instagram stories ads accounted for 22 percent of Instagram spend and 28 percent of impressions.

As a larger share of commerce has moved online amid the pandemic, ad conversion rates have improved and retailers’ ad spend has held up better for Google search. Organic search visits produced by Google decreased 13 percent year over year in Q1 and 16 percent year over year on mobile devices; Bing and Yahoo saw greater declines, with organic visits down 26 percent on Bing and 27 percent on Yahoo. 

As the pandemic unfolded, Merkle also saw organic search grow 53 percent year over year for essential retailers while organic clicks fell 31 percent for apparel and specialty merchandisers.

Amazon Sponsored Products spend grew 67 percent year over year in Q1, with clicks growing 87 percent and CPCs falling 10 percent. Sales from Amazon Sponsored Products ads increased 70 percent year over year in Q1, allowing advertisers to hold return on investment (ROI) roughly flat compared to 2019. Sponsored Brands spend ballooned to 118 percent year over year, with clicks growing 43 percent year over year and CPC seeing 52 percent growth year over year.

Merkle predicts Amazon ad spend investment will rebound as the giant stops limiting the fulfillment of non-essential products and as sales and inventory for brands start to pick back up.

CMO Council Offers Discounted Access To Global Library Of Content

The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to rethink their entire marketing approach but many lack the necessary data to improve responsiveness. To help businesses adjust strategies accordingly, the CMO Council is offering discounted access to its online decision support center and research library for $95 a year. 

Using the code SPRING2020, struggling businesses can tap into The CMO Library for unlimited access to peer-based knowledge and real-time market data.

Recent research from the CMO Council shows that marketers have been side-swiped by the coronavirus crisis and are looking for response ideas and customer engagement solutions. The findings show 84 percent of global marketers expect the pandemic will multiply business disruption globally and 90 percent expect to make changes to their marketing plans.

These businesses are hoping to find solutions from others who have overcome previous market upheavals as many lack the foresight to navigate marketing in the age of the coronavirus. 

According to the CMO Council’s data, 66 percent of marketers said they don’t have enough real-time visibility and insight into the pandemic’s impact across demand and supply chains. Additionally, two-thirds are dissatisfied with the quality, timeliness and usefulness of the decision support data currently out there.

Upgrading to the Library subscription will automatically convert current CMO Council members to a premium membership.