Hitwise just hosted its annual Summer Summit, where over 200 delegates from different industries and disciplines discussed all things digital marketing, e-commerce, and data analytics.
The aim was to make this year’s event bigger and better than last year. This was driven by our fantastic line up of thought-provoking sessions and panels, led by leading brands like ITV, M&S, Missguided, and Icelolly, and industry experts such as Croud, Trajectory, Retail Economics, and Minoro Data.
We’ve summarised the Top 7 Insights that continue to challenge and question our thinking as we head into the second half of 2019:
1. Gen Z is important, but so is “Generational Equipoise”
Don’t worry, you aren’t the only person to not know what that means.
Tom Johnson, Managing Director at Trajectory, kicked off the day by talking about the complexities and drivers of Gen Z. Aged 7 to 22, they are powerful, political, diverse, and contradictory. On top of understanding and shaping this generation, marketers also need to prepare for the “generational equipoise” in 10 years’ time, where all four generations are represented equally in the UK, all with different needs, life stages, and lifestyles.
2. Behavioral data can de-bunk fads and contradictions
Gen Z isn’t the only contradictory generation. Opposing behaviors around what people say they do, vs. what they actually do, transcend generations.
Lisa Luu, Global Head of Insights at Hitwise, pointed out that it’s human nature to aspire, oppose, and contradict, but this makes the job as marketers much harder. She showed that through online behavioral data, marketers can de-bunk fads and stereotypes, and develop targeted campaigns that speak to the core needs and interests of the intended consumer.
3. Online retail is expected to reach 50% by 2025. Experiences will be critical in differentiating brands
Online retail has risen four-fold in the last ten years and is predicted to reach 50% of total retail sales by 2025.
Richard Lim, CEO at Retail Economics, spoke about the rising importance of the customer’s experience in this evolving context. He demonstrated that businesses need to provide a seamless discovery, purchase, and delivery process, particularly as consumers gain more confidence when it comes to transacting online.
4. Ethical consumption is becoming mainstream
Green is becoming mainstream, and vegans are no longer the “lefty hippies”.
Hayley Ward, Head of Insight Partnership, showed how M&S has transformed the evolving green trend into a new and successful product range, Plant Kitchen. She also spoke about the dangers of “preaching”, as shown with the backlash and controversy around Percy Pigs. Her key message was that brands need to be careful and creative when it comes to attracting new consumers, without alienating existing ones.
5. The FANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google) are dominating boardrooms across the country
The “retail apocalypse” has been highly publicised; store closures are outweighing new openings. Businesses need to strike a balance between high street presence and digital sales channels. But, an increasing proportion of online activity is occurring within the walled gardens of Amazon, Facebook, Google, and even Netflix.
Our panel, which included Kevin Joyner at Croud, Nick Bamber at Missguided, Ross Matthews at Icelolly and Matt Sawyer at Minoro Data, debated whether the FANGs were at a tipping point or whether they will continue to grow in dominance. They also spoke about the impending threat if Google were to update their ITP approach (Intelligent Tracking Prevention or the “cookie blocker”). The consensus was that a Chrome ITP change would significantly reduce third-party cookies and shake up the digital marketing landscape as we know it today.
6. Love Island drove +484% uplifts in visits to key sponsor sites
Publishers and sponsors are finding a way around this impending threat, by measuring digital impacts without the need for cookies.
Glenn Gowen, Head of Audiences at ITV, showed how their mega-hit television show, Love Island, is driving measurable uplifts for their brand partners, Superdrug, Missguided and Jet2. By using Hitwise data, ITV is able to connect sponsorships with quantified changes in online searches, visits, and purchases among their audience. The number to remember was an average increase of 484% in site visits to Love Island sponsors!
7. From Nike to Gillette, brands are taking a side and seeing success
Finally, a key theme that resonated throughout the summit was the role of branding in today’s polarising, politicised, and challenging climate.
Emma Moorman, Senior Product Manager, and Angela Hope, Head of Retail at Hitwise, concluded that brands need to be audience-focused and authentic in their marketing campaigns.
They listed a number of brands seeing success. Despite the “boycott”, Nike claimed to have earned $6B since the Kaepernick controversy. Facing a backlash for their “toxic masculinity” ad, Gillette has since attracted a younger and more female audience online. Boohoo Group’s newest brands, PrettyLittleThing and Nasty Gal, are completely tailored to Gen Z’s digital-first and price-sensitive female audience. Their multi-brand strategy has accelerated the group’s revenues by +48% last year.