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Digital Transformation without DEI is no transformation at all

Digital Transformation without DEI is no transformation at all; social inclusion and kindness are 2 musts for a successful digital recipe.

In 2020 Americans experienced two events that at the time everyone thought would change the world forever: the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and the historic protests following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police. But last Sunday’s Super Bowl, in which brands paid $484.7 million for 42 minutes of advertising–possibly the most notable of which having been a retro-looking QR code bouncing around old-school-screen-saver style, sending people to a crypto-currency site they ended up crashing–during a game where “End Racism” was written in the endzones, culminating the season for a league currently being sued for systemic discrimination against minority coaches, raises the question about how much things have really changed.

Brands didn’t hesitate to transform themselves in the face of the pandemic. Necessity is the mother of all innovation to paraphrase a cliche. According to KPMG’s Global Head of Advisory, thanks to the pandemic, “The move to digitization has accelerated, and the benefits will be permanent…There is no going back.” McKinsey data suggests that 80% of consumer interactions have moved online and that the pandemic has caused a quantum leap, having sped up digital adaptation by several years. Deloitte says that “to grow and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world, swift digital transformation into a pandemic-proof organizational model is vital,” and the pandemic even inspired notoriously slow CPGs to accelerate their strategies

The move to digital as a response to the pandemic has been indisputable and unanimous, and it makes sense. Consumers are demanding that companies meet them where they are and that they deliver personalized experiences. Approximately 75% of consumers experimented with new shopping behaviors because of the pandemic and 80% of them expect to continue with those behaviors. Consumers are increasingly demanding more personalized experiences and expect to experience them digitally.

While DEI has grown in importance, the change in the wake of the George Floyd protests is more of a mixed bag. It wasn’t all bad at the Super Bowl. For the first time in the history of Super Bowl advertisements, “female BIPOC representation (46%) and male BIPOC representation (41%) mirrored the 38% BIPOC US population,” and we saw the first hip-hop act to headline a history making and extremely well received halftime show. Those bright spots, however are probably overshadowed by the fact that the NFL is currently being sued for systemic discrimination. The NFL isn’t alone. In the last month Tesla has been sued by California for systemic discrimination in its factories and Spotify has been in the news for all the wrong reasons because of racist comments made by its most popular podcast host. 

In our last blog post, Talk is Cheap: Consumers Demand DEI Action, we dropped a lot of data about how consumers are demanding DEI action, just like they are demanding digital transformation.

«Research is basically unanimous that consumers want more diversity. According to Facebook IQ 71% of NOW Gen consumers expect brands to promote DEI in their advertising. According to Microsoft 70% of Gen Z consumers are more trusting of brands that show diversity. A study conducted by The Female Quotient, Google, and IPSOS found that 64% of NOW Gen consumers took some action after seeing an ad that incorporated DEI. That same study found that 69% of Black consumers were more likely to purchase from a brand whose ads positively represented their race, and that 71% of LGBTQ consumers were more likely to click ads that authentically represent their sexual orientation. Furthermore, 75% of Gen Z consumers will end relationships with companies that run ad campaigns perceived as macho, racist, or homo­phobic. These statistics pretty much speak for themselves, and the trend is that DEI is only becoming more important to consumers.»

The data raises a rather unfortunate question: in the face of equally pressing consumer demands, why can brands make monumental changes at speeds never before seen in the realm of digital transformation, but they can’t do the same in addressing issues of systemic racism and discrimination? In a famous New Yorker essay, Letter from a Region in My Mind, James Baldwin theorized that “America, of all the Western nations, has been best placed to prove the uselessness and the obsolescence of the concept of color. But it has not dared to accept this opportunity, or even to conceive of it as an opportunity.” 

Some brands do see the opportunity, and they’re making changes. Levi-Strauss says that “Digital Transformation Depends on Diversity,” and in the eponymous article they lay-out several strategies to combat discrimination that results directly from digital transformation. Google’s Super Bowl ad spoke directly to how their technology takes into account the difficulties some people have in being photographed emphasizing that their product makes sure that “everyone feels seen.” Hershey’s, for example, has created a new position, Chief Diversity Officer, that already boasts a laundry list of DEI focused action and initiatives. We wholeheartedly applaud these brands and their efforts, but it has to be said that a handful of brands alone won’t make a difference.

As no other writer has described as deftly the problems of race  U.S., we leave you with another classic quote from the great James Baldwin: 

“Everything now, we must assume, is in our hands; we have no right to assume otherwise. If we—and now I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of the others—do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world. If we do not now dare everything, the fulfillment of that prophecy, re-created from the Bible in song by a slave, is upon us: God gave Noah the rainbow sign, No more water, the fire next time!”

NOW Gen brands have a unique opportunity to change history with respect to diversity, equity, inclusion, systemic discrimination and racism, just like they are changing history by moving us into the digital age, but without DEI transformation, digital transformation won’t be any transformation at all. 

Brands

How to gather first-party data in a cookieless world

Twenty-five years ago, a magic tool called cookies that changed digital advertising was born.

Thanks to them, marketers could identify, build a profile based on interactions, and activate engagement through a series of messages. Cookies were also helpful for insight and brand impact. Relying on them seemed like a perfect strategy for gaining customers’ data, but these good old days are over now. The end of cookies is coming in 2022, and brands need to build trust and create unique experiences for their users to gather relevant data organically and under their consent.

As challenging and uncertain as this sounds for the industry, we are on the verge of a new year, and it’s the perfect time for brands to reassess their strategies, let go of depending on one third-party resource for data and strengthen their client relationships. 

Try inbound.

The numbers are here, 94% of customers leave and unfollow brands when they see irrelevant promotions and messages; nevertheless, 93% will buy again at companies if they find a remarkable service, 77% will recommend their experience on socials and reviews. So, to get positive numbers rolling in your marketing strategy and gather first-party data, inbound can be the answer. 

Inbound is a philosophy based on helping people and building relationships with them by guiding them throughout their journey. An inbound practice is built under three pillars (attract, engage, delight). It can be adapted into your funnel into many techniques, such as offering educational and resourceful content that consumers can use or creating platforms or bots to provide excellent customer service for people. Positive inbound can lead to a share of data under the user’s consent, so it’s essential to keep in mind to be as human as possible in your strategy, be empathetic with users through mindful research, have a constant conversation with customers and standardize your communication for consistency.

Trust influencer marketing

Today, shoppers live on social media an average of 144 minutes a day. They enjoy browsing, discovering, and purchasing from an ad or influencers. 

50% of Gen Z shops after seeing an influencer recommendation because they bring a deep sense of connection, and credibility to their audience. Investing in influencer marketing creates a bridge to purchase, so try having them not only for awareness but also across your customer journey and providing them with call-to-actions to direct their users to your shopping basket and gather first-party data. 

If you have a problem picking which influencers are the right ones, try including AI in your practices. Machine learning can help identify content in a way humans can’t, monitor each influencer activity, and help you optimize your budget. 

Give them control. 

Don’t think that you will no longer cooperate with Google or Facebook; they accommodate your objectives, so it’s essential to learn to work with them efficiently. Find strategies that can help gather email addresses and even phone numbers. These data can be shared within these platforms and help create a custom audience within these first-party data ecosystems. Design a Customer Data Platform or Data Management, or acquire them from a vendor and offer ethical, reliable customer-centric experiences that empower users and give them control over their data. 

The road for marketers is still under construction, with many challenges ahead. It’s essential that during these changes, such as the elimination of cookies, you can count on a partner that can make your strategies become a reality in a cost-efficient manner. AT 121, thanks to our Speed Philosophy, we can work with our clients and deliver projects in record time without compromising their budgets. So give us a call, and together we will find the right strategy and tools to make you shine across your 2022 marketing journey. 

Brands

The importance of a solid brand’s purpose

Brand purpose is vital because it demonstrates to your customers that you are more than your products, services, or advertising efforts. You have a goal that is larger than merely making a profit. A new generation of customers wants businesses to stand for something broader than the items they sell. They want businesses to represent an inspirational ethos, have a strong point of view, and take action to influence the world positively. So check out if your brand has the guidelines to earn a check on the purpose section.

Examine your own brand’s purpose as well as the brand you represent

A brand mission is a brand’s reason for existence other than to make money. It’s the ‘Why?’ behind the brand, the spirit of your company — it connects with customers on an emotional level via shared ideals, solved challenges, and distilled meaning. It propels business, helps individuals, and improves society: Is your brand’s motivation for a purpose other than to make money?

Think of your brand purpose manifests itself positively in the eyes of others? Is it capable of fostering emotional attachments and connections? After all, we are all in the same boat, so ask yourself if your brand is improving business, people, and society; most importantly, how do these responses relate to your company’s or product’s brand?

Difference between brand purpose and brand vision, mission, and values

So far, we’ve discussed the brand purpose, but it’s equally critical to define what a brand’s mission isn’t. Your brand’s purpose is not the same as its vision, mission, or values. They are interconnected; each builds on the other. However, if your brand’s vision, mission, and values are the building bricks, consider your brand’s purpose of being the foundation.

Where you are heading is defined by your brand vision. Your mission will determine how you will get there. And your values will determine how you act along the way. They are all inward-looking. They represent you when discussing your brand. They are crucial to identify, but none are as potent as your purpose.

Your purpose—or Big Audacious Meaning—is the overarching explanation for why you do what you do. It should be placed above the vision, purpose, and values to educate and guide them. It is priceless because it is outward-looking, defining the change you will make in a person’s life, a community, or perhaps the planet. Clarifying your mission helps consumers understand how your brand benefits them and their world.

Purpose that sells

The concept of brand purpose is especially crucial when marketing to millennials, who favor businesses that generate social and environmental change, according to 71% of them. A groundbreaking global study analyzing the value of brands with a well-defined «Purpose» shows that consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from those brands, as a Forbes article reveals.

In many circumstances, the contemporary customer is seeking a relationship rather than a product. They do not need to be sold; instead, they must be inspired. What emotions does the brand elicit in them? Is it consistent with their fundamental values and beliefs? As consumers’ interests shift, marketers must interact with social audiences deeper, more personal level than ever before.

To build a strong relationship with your brand, you can apply Keller’s brand equity model and boost your brand’s equity. This tool outlines four actions you can take to create and manage a brand that your consumers will support. Overall Purpose-Driven Marketing is at the core of a previous strategy to achieve more significant customer connections.

At 121, we aim to help you achieve your brand’s objective, not to compete against your creative, strategic, or In-House agencies. We adapt and implement your global campaigns to suit and comply with your outlets’ requirements while also aligned with your brand’s equity and helping you build a clear purpose.

From Social & E-comm content, graphic design, digital implementation to integrated production, 121 will work with you to grow your brand while giving you peace of mind. We genuinely believe that we can play a significant role in your success, for us, the Fastest day-to-day Design and Content Studio for many global Fortune 500 companies.

Brands

The role of CPG’s in a hyperconnected world

We are just a few months away from the beginning of 2022, and the changes in consumer behavior and expectations that changed during the global pandemic crisis have made something very clear to companies worldwide, and that is that these behaviors are here to stay. 

This has pushed the CPG industry to be the ambassadors of change and the innovators of the industry, through strategies that integrate seamlessly the offline and online, and this is because nowadays we live in a hyper-connected world, where convenience is what drives consumers to seek unique and fast experiences aligned not only to their shopping purposes, but also to their personal ones. In the recent “State of the Connected Customer” study by Salesforce, it was found that 80% of consumers believe that their experience with a brand is just as important as the quality of services and products, and that this experience is key to increasing loyalty and therefore long-term profit. In addition, 88% felt that brands that listen to their needs are seen as better-quality brands.

To create this profit, and not fall behind, CPGs have opted for vital strategies to meet the expectations of their consumers. From buying DTC companies, to giving consumers the ability to create their own product according to their needs. We will highlight some of these strategies and trends that are redefining the future of the industry.

Bye bye middle man

We are seeing more and more 100% online brands and startups that are eliminating the different logistics channels and bridging the gap with their consumers by offering niche products, focused on sustainability, personalization and a premium experience. This has created a wake-up call for industry giants, and in order to not be left behind this momentum, they have started to buy many of these brands to create a new experience with their consumers. And this buying doesn’t just start from the pandemic, Unilever, for example, bought several, including Dollar Shave Club in 2016 and Schmidt’s Naturals in 2017. 

Other brands such as Pepsi announced that they will create online stores for their consumers to buy their products directly, with 0 intermediaries, this with the objective of helping to develop skills and value through E-comm in the long term. Although it is a risky move, due to factors such as distance between the factory and the consumer, not doing so would imply a much greater risk as consumers are increasingly looking for a more personal treatment with their preferred brands.

The evolution of the value chain

It´s time to let go the traditional. Technology has come to impact the entire value chain, by creating more automated and disruptive processes to reach the consumer in a more unique and faster ways. In marketing, for example, advanced analytics are to generate promotions, product assortment and even pricing. Today, marketing teams from different CPGs work together with Data Scientists, integrating, consolidating and generating insights that positively affect marketing strategies and budget allocations. In sales, machine learning algorithms help create a more specific sales plan with key actions to ensure optimal negotiations and in the supply chain, experts are seeing how to convert business objectives and supplies into digital projects focused on more convenient and fast solutions.

Extreme personalization.

As we mentioned earlier, consumers are looking for experiences, and brands have to move to create them. According to a McKinsey study, almost 26% of purchases are based on product recommendations and reviews. For CPGs this percentage rises, with 65% in cosmetics and 55% in soaps. Using social networks, not only for the simple fact of being present, but also to listen to insights and understand them, can become a key point to create a better positioning through relevant promotions, allocation of targets, and even innovation and development of products. 

Another way to personalize is by creating interest through exclusivity across different E-Commerce platforms. Walmart, for example, offers L’Oreal hydration kits exclusively on walmart.com. Another German company even allows its online users to create their favorite type of muesli using more than 80 ingredients, and it is delivered to its consumers instantly.

But let’s not just stick to E-Comm. Augmented Reality (AR) is an incredible opportunity for CPGs to make experiences from the package. With the help of Smartphones, people can discover more about what they are buying, immerse themselves in the production experience and even find out which product is right for their needs, thus connecting the digital world to the offline world, and optimizing the collection of customer data in a more organic and optimal way.

We have to start acting and fast. Today is the time where we have to understand that markets and industries are moving at the speed of light and we have to captivate consumers right away. At 121 Corp, we move at the same speed as the world. We work hand in hand with our clients, and together we create innovative strategies and product design in record time across their value chain and consumer touchpoints. We know that in this year and the new years to come, we will not only need to have the perfect product with the same promotions and campaigns as always, but we will have to put ourselves in the consumers’ shoes. Understanding their tastes, needs, values and purposes, in order to create experiences that excite them and make them fall in love with a brand.

Brands

Creativity: The non-negotiable ingredient

Creativity! What is creativity exactly? Agencies worldwide take the challenge to take Fortune 500 companies’ brand materials and communication to the next level. Creativity is one of those things that not everyone can actually put into words. So, what does it mean to be creative?

Bestselling author and journalist Daniel Pink says Creativity is “Giving the world something it didn’t know it was missing.”

Steal Like an Artist author, Austin Kleon defines Creativity as “Taking what’s in front of you and everybody else and making something new out of it.

Today we associate Creativity with so much more. We think about imagination, ingeniousness, Innovation, invention, and originality. As Entrepreneur magazine states, Creativity is the best solving tool there is, and we agree entirely. Advertising is about reaching your target audience with audacity. Consumers want to see ads they actually like. We all love a good campaign. It makes us want to share it and participate in it.

CPG Power brands are cautious about messing with their brand’s equity. Implementation must be done creatively but without disturbing the brand’s guidelines.
This is why brands develop strict brand books so that every agency that manipulates their materials doesn’t generate different materials that don’t go along well. Can you imagine hundreds of agencies deforming a power brand’s logo? It would be too painful to watch!

Creativity on Adapting Global Campaigns (without losing a brand’s identity)

Global advertising and creative agencies such as IPG, GROUP M, Publicis, WPP Group, Dentsu, among others, take months to develop truly mindblowing campaigns. However, implementation agencies are in charge of adapting global campaigns into regional and seasonal materials.

Creativity shouldn’t be lost on adaptation. On the contrary, a good dose of it should be injected into materials. Ask our designers. We have loooots of fun delivering attractive pieces of content.

Old Spice, a Procter & Gamble brand, is known for its irreverent campaigns. The iconic «Hello Ladies» has resulted in hundreds of campaigns that will always give you a good laugh. We know we do. We have a lot of fun while adapting and developing engaging ad materials for social and e-comm channels.

Mucinex, Reckitt Benckiser’s flu remedy, is most certainly a fun brand to work with thanks to Mr. Mucus, the star we love to dismiss from their ads. KY, also from RB, is vibrant and creative. Having both a line for women and men makes them stand out because of their bold and unapologetic communication. Consumers find it genuine and playful, good to know, considering the nature of their brand.

Effective implementation is about providing artistic value on adaptation material, adding verbal, visual, and creative sound elements to elevate a brand’s communication. Creativity is not always valued at first. However, taking it into account will make campaigns more appealing as they roll out, and consumers get to appreciate our work.

Speed and Agility: A match made in heaven

Agility & Speed are not the same. Being agile means always in a position to take account of market changes and act on them. Speed is something we were born with, not be that braggy. Improving a consumer’s omnichannel experience over time is something brands should consider. Marketing teams must take so much change into the equation.

Brand Managers and Marketers require their agencies to deliver on very, very, veryyyyy short notice. Let’s just say we’ve developed entire product range adaptations in less than 24 hours. Its an arduous task, but we are ready to get our hands busy.

The world, as we knew it changed. Today brands require creativity if they want to stand out on social media, A+ pages, and every major e-commerce platform. Online Seasonal Sales have stolen the spotlight from brick and mortar stores. 

At 121, we swear by our speed, our reputation precedes us as we are a reliable partner delivering POS and Packaging design as well as Web Solutions. Today we do so much more than that. 2020 propelled us immensely into the world of content. Social and e-comm are booming right now, and our clients started demanding astonishing amounts of it in a blink of an eye. Let’s make great things happen!

Brands

Speed: How to embrace digital marketing

Today we find ourselves surfing all day for all the kinds of content you can ever imagine. People are streaming movies and series, looking at memes, reading celebrity gossip, playing video games, listening to music, podcasts, and let’s not forget, staying up to date with the news.

As the population has more time on their hands, 87% of U.S. consumers say they’re consuming more content online than ever. According to Global Web Index (G.W.I.), around 80% of consumers in the U.S. and U.K. say they are consuming more content since the outbreak. YouTube and TikTok described as being favorite across genders and generations.

DIGIDAY says that advertisers are currently moving away from traditional Tv advertising because, in these times, they’re just not willing to commit to spending so far in advance. Shifting to online advertising has its benefits. Even though content has to be generated at a speed of light, sharing new and fresh content is what it takes to stay relevant to your audience.

Whether business owners like it or not, these past months have increased consumers’ online presence. It’s a grave mistake not to go digital right now, it can even be fatal to many small and medium businesses if they don’t willingly adapt.

You should think twice before slaughtering your marketing budget.

1. E-comm, enhanced marketplaces.

Amazon is cashing in. We know, it’s no surprise to us either. 2020 Q1 Earnings boosted up a whopping 24.5% compared to the industry’s average growth of 2.7%. According to Comscore, Amazon’s website hit 2.54 billion visitors only in March 2020.

If you are already selling on Amazon, you should step up your A+ Page game. «Adding A+ to your product detail pages can result in higher conversion rates, increased traffic, and increased sales when used effectively.» – Amazon seller central.

Another retailer that cashed in due to mayor updates is Walmart, who recently surpassed eBay in e-commerce sales thanks to their considerable improvement on their web page and shopping app.

Target has also joined the high ranks club, for the past two years, they had already had their focus set on high-merchandising as well as express delivery and curbside pick-up arrangements can say they were on the right track well before the crisis hit.

Home Depot is also expected to see a considerable 38% increase due to their digital sales mixed with in-store pick-up.

Some brands are reporting sales similar to the ones on shopping holidays such as Black Friday. Spending is going particularly up on items such as exercise equipment, bread machines, kitchenware, and health supplements.

Online retailers must be careful only to share quality product images and compositions. With the use of CGI’s brands can generate quality material at a fraction of the time. Employing CGIs will not limit the angles of your product shots. Sharing content on your e-commerce site was never easier.

Even though consumer behavior has changed, this doesn’t mean they aren’t spending. It’s essential to be up to date on consumer trends so you can invest your marketing budget accordingly in the most promising categories on your niche.

Forbes says that a brand’s customer experience is going to depend a lot on the look and feel of the customer-facing app. In the world of digital marketing, a brand can only make a strong impression by having even stronger content. Developing attractive digital assets is worth giving a try.

2. Stay social, stay connected.

The digital disruption that’s ben recently going on due to worldwide stay at home orders might be here to stay. People cannot touch, try on, and feel the products brands are selling. So, it is been up to brands to keep things fresh and step up their social game as well as partnering with the right people.

«Facebook has seen a 50% increase in messaging, Instagram usage is up 40%, and Twitter’s monetizable daily active users has spiked 23%»- Forbes.

Aerie closed its stores across the U.S. and Canada for the time being; however, they wasted no time jumping on Tik Tok. In just two weeks, Aerie spiked their following. Introducing challenges and getting their followers to participate. They are one of the few fashion brands actually putting money in for their digital campaigns. McCormick and E.L.F. Cosmetics have also been successful by taking this route.

When Levi’s partner on social commerce, they doubled their product views.

Brands are attempting to foster a sense of community through virtual social gatherings, sharing stories with their audience regularly, and inviting their consumers to participate in creative initiatives.

According to HBSWK, 89% of consumers want brands focusing on producing goods that can help people with pandemic-related challenges. But beware of sharing bad advice, fact-check your claims and point to respected health organizations.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. You must be sensitive to your content, but don’t be afraid to sell. Acknowledging the crisis rather than ignoring it is the way to go.

Consumers do want to hear from you, don’t you dare ghost them, or you shall deal with the consequences. Leaning into digital and connecting with customers will likely have lasting effects.

3. Video, Rockstar of digital content.

Creativity and high personalization must reign among your video content. To gain the consumer’s attention and maintain high levels of engagement, companies need to hire experts. Only exceptional marketers are capable of keeping a high volume of content output that resonates with their audiences. Quality design plays a vital role in extraordinary visuals.

The human’s attention span currently stops at eight valuable seconds if you didn’t connect with your viewer in that small lapse, you are doomed. Marketers have the quest to build unique and advanced experiences that will be of value to the target.

Thanks to data consumption stats, we can now highly personalize content for our audiences depending on age group, interests, location, and browsing history. Tailored content leaves a better impression on anyone. Think about it; you don’t want to be getting the same Christmas card from your Nonna, as your average human cousins, you expect her to address you as the one and only favorite grandchild.

Challenges, tutorials, webinars, you name it, video is the easiest most effective way of getting your messages across. However, it is said that around 20% of the people who start watching a YouTube video leave after only 10 seconds of viewing. Talk about engagement.

Soon X.R. ads will be playing mainstream across platforms. A mix of virtual and augmented reality will make consumers’ content consumption highly immersive. Papa John’s reached a 25% conversion rate employing an X.R. campaign. Users could order a pizza within Snapchat’s app.

Brands are having to go ahead with their product launches, and they are embracing full-on digital from virtual fragrance pop-ups to V.R. shoe releases.

Because some are pulling out their ads, today is the best time to go into video content and adds, rates are going down, and you can get more exposure. Remember to be true to your brand and to share genuine and creative content.

Speed is our core

Doing digital marketing right is a combination of creativity, empathy, and speed.

Times are uncertain, planning that much ahead is just isn’t an option. Social media strategy must be responsive and very flexible nowadays.

Advertising is no longer about interrupting but about interacting. Keeping up with generating content doesn’t have to be a hassle.

In 121, we understand that marketplaces move at an unforeseen pace, and we can reassure you that we are ready to create and design content worth sharing faster than anyone else.