Study: Engaging consumers through social media boosts brand sales
CINCINNATI — Social media engagement between a consumer and brand drives both immediate and long-term sales increases, according to a study released Thursday by LoyaltyOne. The research constitutes a social media marketing breakthrough because it establishes the accountability link long sought by brands that have showered dollars on social media outlets while attempting to prove the return on investment to C-suite skeptics, the company stated.
“The good news is this research delivers the evidence that investment in social media has the potential to return benefits in the form of transactions, profits and ROI, if done well,” LoyaltyOne EVP and CMO Neil Everett said. “The even better news is this study demonstrates that the data obtained through loyalty programs generates a reliable method of measuring this connection.”
The research findings are based on a two-year analysis of brand-customer social media engagement and actual transaction data with Canada’s more than 10-million member Air Miles Reward Program. Consumers who participated in LoyaltyOne’s Air Miles loyalty program earned reward miles by making purchases from its affiliated business partners and services across Canada.
The breakthrough results revealed that Air Miles Collectors who participated in social media events and promotions increased their purchases from Air Miles program partners by 15% to 30% over nonparticipants.
Other highlights from the study included:
- The mere act of writing a short public statement on a social media site spurs significant lifts in transaction activity;
- However, longer, more elaborate posts dealing with redemption experiences (travel, entertainment) created higher lifts than shorter, product-based posts;
- The higher the level of participation in a social media event, the greater the impact on a consumer’s purchasing activity;
- Brands can use social media as a tool to raise the value of lower-volume, high-potential consumers who have more room to increase their spending; and
- Events that encourage participants to recreate the core benefits of a brand have higher lift effects than more generic posts — resembling a “co-creation effect.”
Transaction-based proof that social media participation increases purchases is the outcome of a research effort undertaken as the 2012 LoyaltyOne Social Media Transaction Impact Study.
Complete findings from the 2012 LoyaltyOne Social Media Transaction Impact Study can be found in a white paper titled The Social Media Payoff – Establishing the Missing Link Between Social Media and ROI.
Target unveils new ethnic beauty products at NYC event
NEW YORK — Recognizing the importance of meeting the needs of its ethnic beauty shoppers, Target has in recent years been working to bolster its ethnic sets in-store, and that effort continues, as evidenced by a media event held here Tuesday evening.
The event was held at the Target Studio in New York and served as a showroom to highlight new and existing products, from such ethnic beauty brands as Kinky Curly, Mixed Chicks, Milani, Iman, Camille Rose and Shea Moisture. On hand to greet beauty editors was style expert Tai Beauchamp.
In an effort to better meet the beauty needs of its ethnic shoppers, Target has recently doubled or tripled its multi-ethnic beauty merchandising in select stores, with some sets reaching up to 36 feet. Today Target has more than 1,000 unique multi-ethnic merchandise SKUs in beauty.
Come spring 2013, Target will be the exclusive mass-market retailer for Camille Rose. Founded in 2010 by Janell Stephens, a mother of five and dedicated vegan, Camille Rose is committed to developing natural products that improve health, wellness and beauty. The collection includes body and hair care products ranging from $14.99 to $18.
Target is also the exclusive mass-market retailer for Mixed Chicks, a natural, cruelty-free and vegan hair care brand specially formulated for multi-textured hair, and Kinky Curly hair care products for curly hair. Both brands became available in Target stores in 2012.
Ethnic hair care brand Curls is sold at other retailers; however, Target will be the exclusive retailer of two items previewed at the event — Cashmere Curl Jelly and Gel-les’c — as of spring 2013. Both items are priced at $17.99 each.
Additional new products for spring 2013 include Jane Carter’s Curl Defining Cream; Shea Moisture’s Lemongrass & Ginger Bath, Body & Massage Oil, as well as five different bath soaks; and items by Shea Radiance.
Walgreens’ Shannon Curtin shares insights during latest Mack Elevation Forum
WHEELING, Ill. — “When you create something for [our various retail concepts], you are creating a new experience and environment that makes us different than our competitive set. Exclusivity of the experience is a large differentiator.” That was a key message that keynote retail speaker Shannon Curtin, Walgreens divisional VP and GMM for beauty, personal care and seasonal, had for attendees of the latest Mack Elevation Forum.
The most recent Elevation Forum was held Oct. 17 at the Westin Chicago North Shore Hotel in Wheeling, Ill., which is located roughly five miles from Walgreens’ headquarters. More than 20 suppliers gathered to attend the all-day event, founded by Dan Mack, managing director of Mack Elevation Forum and strategy leader of The Swanson Group.
Curtin attended the event to offer critical insights into how to successfully and strategically align with Walgreens, as Mack led discussions on business habits and evaluating talent within the supplier community.
As illustrated in a recent issue of Drug Store Stores, Walgreens is working to transform the traditional drug store, and the beauty and personal care space is no exception.
When looking to work with Walgreens, suppliers need to be aware of the various formats under the retailer’s banner, including flagship locations and Well Experience stores. They must also determine the best fit for the community they will mutually serve by thinking about how to create a unique experience within that respective format and passing what Curtin referred to as a “gut check.”
“Within each of these stores, make a proposal to us that the customer always has to win first. Then assure the proposal aligns with our mission and strategy. For example, in a flagship store, the world is open to you to co-create whatever you would like to propose and we are happy to entertain those new ideas,” said Curtin, who also stressed that the proposed product/solution must be exclusive to Walgreens and unique to the market. In other words, it needs to be a game-changer. “In these flagship stores, it is for us to showcase the best of the best,” she said.
And within the Well Experience stores, for example, the retailer is taking the essence of what makes that store special and heightening it to open up a new shopping experience. To further serve shoppers, some of these locations will also have an online element where shoppers can access information via an in-store kiosk to find additional products not sold in the physical location, purchase the item and have it shipped home.
Curtin also discussed the future of private brands and told attendees that while Walgreens will continue to support private brand, it is eager to entertain potential partnerships between noncompeting private and national brands. “If you have an idea to partner with one of our private brands, we think that’s a great solution," she said.
As mentioned earlier, Mack kicked off the event with an open discussion on business habits to help unearth some best practices.
“We tend to get enthralled in the myopic issues of the day … I think an underrated proposition is to allow your teams to have the flexibility to think” and, perhaps more importantly, to think ahead much like a chess game, said one supplier.
Avoid falling into a price game and understand that “different makes a difference,” added another supplier.
Another attendee said, “When people have a voice and feel they can help develop a strategic plan, it makes them feel like they are more on board.”
The day came to a close with a discussion on evaluating talent. When asked what they look for when evaluating talent, some attendees said passion, positive energy, ownership and someone who is looking to “fix” things or bring solutions to the table.
Mack also suggested that employers not underestimate the value of a “virtual bench.” In other words, employers should always have several potential new hires in mind or sitting on a “virtual bench,” who could step in to fill an unexpected vacancy.
Clearly the all-day forum covered a lot of ground and, once again, proved to be an invaluable discussion for attendees. And if there was one message Mack wanted to convey, it was “Don’t play today safe — risk.”