Top Takeaways from 2013 WWD Digital

5 Min Read
Abena Gyebi

Lots of amazing insights were shared at this year’s WWD Digital Forum Fall Session as iconic brands and retailers let in on the latest digital trends emerging in the fashion, apparel and beauty industries.  From responsive ecommerce to tech-driven marketing strategies, below are some key takeaways I had from the full day forum.


Responsive Web Design

The Fifth Finger gave a presentation about an approach to web design we at Corra have long advocated–responsive.  Responsive web design gives merchants a cost-effective omnichannel presentation of their ecommerce site (especially useful since mobile shopping is on the rise these days). Essentially, responsive design provides a fluid layout that switches to an alternate layout at specified breakpoints so that the user always has an optimized view of the site content. As someone who’s tried to make a purchase from a desktop ecommerce site on my phone (the store was out of my size), having a site that’s optimized for mobile definitely encourages customers to buy.

Fall 2013 WWD Digital Forum in New York City

WWD Digital Forum Quote - "align content with their activities. speak to their passions. their values."

Don’t Treat Young Folks Like Old Folks (and vice versa)
iProspect presented findings from their recent study about the generational differences of higher income consumers. In short, you can’t engage older affluent consumers in the same way you’d engage younger ones. While they have some values, and interests in common, their enthusiasm and activity may vary.  For example, survey data shows everyone seems to be interested in digital technology. But Millennials tend to be creators in the digital world, Gen-Xers are more likely to share than create, and Baby Boomers prefer to observe and neither share nor create. The recommendation from iProspect? Know who you’re targeting and align marketing content with customers’ typical activities and consumption preferences. Speak to their values and passions, and create ways for them to participate.

WWD Digital Forum Quote - "be in the moment with consumers"

Add to Social Media Convos, but Don’t Butt In
What’s worse than empty New Year’s resolutions? All the self criticism that lead up to them. Tired of all the negative energy brought to the New Year holiday, Benefit Cosmetics decided to try something bold and different– #beautyboost. With #beautyboost, followers could tweet Benefit and a magical genie would issue them a reminder of how gorgeous they are – like a bad pick up line but actually sweet. (Try it. It still works!) Benefit reminds us to not only be timely and earnest with our customer interactions, but also to take a risk, be edgy, and add to conversations customers are already engaged in without interrupting or butting in.

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WWD Digital Forum Quote - "look at what customers do rather than what you think they do"

Customer Intent May Not be Obvious, but ROI is
In the same spirit of being bold and different, let’s look at Pay Per Click and SEO. Forward 3D proposed a somewhat controversial search strategy–don’t use keywords that reflect your merchandise. “Let’s take a keyword like Prada,” said Martin McNulty, CEO and Founder of Forward 3D. “From the data that we have I can tell you that 99% of the products that people buy when they type Prada, are not Prada. The smart people in the room will say ‘I know what’s going on here. You can’t buy Prada except from Prada.’ But the same pattern exists across the board. Are you really going to optimize your search strategy based on the stock that you’ve got? You probably shouldn’t because they’re not going to buy that stock. We see exactly the same trend in the discount space. What we’re looking at then is buying designer [PPC] terms as a way of increasing customers. All you should really be looking at is the ROI those terms generate regardless of whether or not it’s for a product you actually carry. It sounds kind of strange, but that’s what the data tells us.” I don’t know if I endorse it, but it’s definitely a new and interesting way to think about PPC.

WWD Digital Forum Quote - "be human. be real. people will respond."

Be Human. Blog.
The next speaker, Michael Williams of A Continuous Lean, talked all about the perfect marriage of bloggers and brands. Let’s face it. Bloggers are just cool. Sure, celebrity endorsement is a successful marketing tool that has been around forever. But working with bloggers and Influencers is a much better way to increase brand awareness and add dimension to brand image. Why? Because they’re real people who can bring genuineness and humanness to a brand’s marketing operation and can help consumers build trust in that brand.  Plus, most of them are just dying to work with brands anyway (get paid to do what they already do just for fun? yes please!). The challenge though is in keeping it genuine and authentic. It’s hard to trust an influencer’s opinion of a product if they were paid to endorse it or if it was sent to them for free.  Therefore, in order to maintain that trust, it’s incredibly important that Influencers only work with brands that align with their own values and lifestyle and vice versa.

A Continuous Lean

WWD Digital Forum Quote - "at the end of the day, it's very easy to lose the brand and continue pushing the product"

Use Digital to Make Emotional Connections with Consumers
Marketing isn’t really about selling products. In fact, it has very little to do with the product. It’s about having an enduring point of view that resonates emotionally with consumers and is expressed in a truly engaging way. Take Revlon’s release of its new lip stain to the India market, for instance. The #TwiceAsGood Campaign linked the lip stain’s dual benefit (balm and stain) to the dual role of women in Indian society. Women are expected to keep very traditional domestic roles, however many aim to live up to their professional potential as well. As a part of the campaign, Revlon launched a microsite that started a hot and culturally relevant conversation about the dual roles of Indian women, offering great examples of Indian women who managed to accomplish both. The results? 90 million impressions over 3 months with 80% engagement. That’s the type of emotional connection that builds brand loyalty. I doubt they would have driven as much business if they had focused primarily on the product.

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Revlon - #TwiceAsGood


Abena Gyebi

Corra, a Publicis Sapient company, is the global commerce leader and SI helping brands and organizations grow by evaluating, building, and optimizing their digital commerce ecosystems. Our vast experience with composable and headless implementations speeds time-to-value and provides technical freedom to our clients. Our TotalCare managed services program provides gold-standard support, enhancements and ongoing commerce strategy. We are strategic thinkers, accomplished engineers, and award-winning experience designers. We believe outstanding customer experiences can’t exist without flawless technology, and that flawless technology is pointless without beautiful, human-centered design. Our clients are an integral part of our team. Together, we remove the obstacles that are limiting growth and discover new opportunities. We don’t rest until our clients achieve their full potential. Our clients’ KPIs are our KPIs. We have 20 years of experience in commerce technology, but we also know that customer expectations are constantly evolving. For this reason, we’ve built future-proof solutions and refined an agile execution process that helps our clients achieve more with less. As a Publicis Sapient company, Corra joins a global network spanning 20,000 people with 53 offices around the world enabling us to accelerate our clients’ businesses through designing and building the experiences and services their customers demand.

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