The demands of the pandemic have forced both introspection and innovation from digital brands. For marketers, this means knowing when to push the envelope and when to play it safe in an unpredictable market.
At the CES Consumer Driven Demands on Next-Gen Tech event, speakers from Snap, Universal Music Group, Visible and TimeHop recognized their roles in reshaping the digital economy. At the same time, they are aware that the users who are used to high performance technology and rapid innovation maintain a sense of connectivity. Here are some key takeaways from the event.
Replace live experiences
When the live experiences suddenly stopped at the beginning of the pandemic, Universal Music Group wanted to counter those losses by increasing consumer engagement, said Richard Yaffa, head of brand partnerships.
This year, Universal Music Group partnered with Facebook Gaming for live streaming and an interactive NBA tournament with “bragging rights”. Even as brands look to the post-pandemic era, experiences that combine personal and virtual components like live music and e-commerce will be a key consumer demand, Yaffa said.
Visible, the first all-digital wireless operator brand in the US, has also put music at the heart of their brand, according to CMO Minjae Ormes. In 2020, Visible set a standard for pandemic-proof music festivals with a three-day event that Ormes said exceeded expectations and attracted 9 million people.
“As marketers, we’ve really thought about what we’re learning here,” she said. “What new ideas does this give us for working with venues and artists and bringing something like this back in the future?”
Take calculated risks
It would have been pretty easy for the nostalgic TimeHop app to play it safe this year, according to Rick Webb, the brand’s chief operating officer. Instead, his team decided to try something new by integrating news into a platform that has traditionally maintained a more lighthearted image.
“We started by educating our users about the other side of the story in America,” said Webb. “We didn’t have to do that, but we struck a gamble that users weren’t there for sheer escapism and that they were also reevaluating the past.”
Webb was also open about the reality of brand survival in this market, saying that this year was a prime example of “radical improvisation”. Snap responded to this immediate pressures to keep in touch with consumers by using augmented reality.
Webb stressed that building partnerships and leveraging existing resources was a smart move in this market.
“This year is not the year you decide to build something from scratch just because you think you can do better,” he said. If someone else has already built it, we’ll be happy to use it. ”
Understand the “Snapchat Generation”
In a 2020 research study of Gen Z and young millennials, Snap found that 82% of users believe they have personal responsibility for activism. In 2020, the brand demonstrated its understanding of the “Snapchat generation” through in-app voter registration, helping over 1.3 million people sign up to vote, according to Mitchell.
“It’s a very special community, and I think brands need to be aware of how they treat them when they know some of their behaviors and beliefs,” said Kenny Mitchell, CMO of Snap. “This is how this generation really gets involved and educated. We assume that this trend will continue until 2021. ”