The demands of the pandemic era have forced both introspection and innovation among digital brands. For marketers, that means knowing when to push the boundaries and when to play it safe in an unpredictable market.
At the CES event “Consumer Demands on Next Generation Technologies”, speakers from Snap, Universal Music Group, Visible and TimeHop recognized their role in reinventing the digital economy. At the same time, they are aware of maintaining a sense of connectivity among users, accustomed to high performance technology and rapid innovation. Here are some key points from the event.
Replacing live experiences
When live experiences suddenly came to a halt at the onset of the pandemic, Universal Music Group aimed to offset those losses through increased consumer engagement, according to head of brand partnerships Richard Yaffa.
This year, Universal Music Group has partnered with Facebook Gaming for a live and interactive NBA tournament. Even as brands look to the post-pandemic period, experiences that combine in-person and virtual components, such as live music and e-commerce, will be a central consumer demand, Yaffa said.
Visible, the first digital-only wireless carrier brand in the United States, has also put music at the center of its brand, according to CMO Minjae Ormes. In 2020, visible set a standard for pandemic-proof music festivals through a three-day event that exceeded expectations by drawing 9 million people, according to Ormes.
“As a marketer, it really made us think about what we’re learning from here,” she said. “What new ideas does this give us to be able to partner with venues and artists and bring something like that back into the future?”
Take calculated risks
For the TimeHop nostalgia app, it would have been easy enough to play it safe this year, according to the brand’s COO Rick Webb. Instead, his team decided to try something new by embedding news in a platform that has traditionally maintained a lighter image.
“We started to educate our users on the other side of history in America,” said Webb. “We didn’t have to do this, but we took the gamble that the users weren’t here for pure escape and that they also re-evaluate the past.”
Webb has also been candid about the reality of surviving as a brand in this market, sharing that this year has been a great example of “radical improvisation”. Snap responded to this immediate pressure to stay engaged with consumers by look into augmented reality.
As for pushing the boundaries with new technologies, Webb stressed that building partnerships and using resources that already exist is a smart move in this market.
“This year is not the year to decide to build something from scratch academically just because you think you can do it better,” he said. “If someone else has already built it, we’ll be happy to use it.”
Understanding the ‘Snapchat Generation’
In a 2020 study of Gen Z and Young Millennials, Snap found that 82% of its users believe they have a personal responsibility to engage in activism. In 2020, the brand proved its understanding of “Snapchat Generation” through voter registration in the app, helping more than 1.3 million people register to vote, according to Mitchell.
“It’s a really special community, and I think brands will need to be aware of how they interact with them by knowing some of their behaviors and beliefs,” said Kenny Mitchell, Marketing Director of Snap. “This is how this generation really gets involved and learns. We expect this trend to continue in 2021. ”