Path to Purchase Toolkit (November 2019)
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A roundup of technology-driven tools that drive consumer understanding, engagement and conversion on every step of the path to purchase.
- Mars Inc.’s Uncle Ben’s is the first food brand to deploy a program using the visual search technology Google Lens, according to a media release. Android and iOS phone users with the Google Lens app simply open it and point the phone’s camera at an Uncle Ben’s item. The product will be recognized automatically and thereby unlock and deliver dynamic content to the user such as a recipe that uses that specific Uncle Ben’s product, nutritional information and cooking videos. Mars worked with Innit, a Silicon Valley-based company, to power and develop the content. Innit has created a food-specific digital mobile app and platform that helps users manage their meal prep and food, acting as a hub for the kitchen by helping them personalize meals, manage recipes, shop and even connect smart appliances. For the Uncle Ben’s promotion, consumers don’t need to be Innit users to access the Uncle Ben’s content, but Innit users do get more personalized results based on that user’s profile, such as if she is allergic to the item and more.
- Leveraging the popularity of “The Goop Podcast,” Banana Republic announced it will partner with the Goop lifestyle brand founded by Gwyneth Paltrow to create a series of eight podcast shows called “Women on Top,” dedicated to highlighting women around the world working to make a positive impact on women’s culture. More than simply advertising or sponsoring the podcast, Banana Republic is the first outside partner to work with the Goop team to develop a specific podcast series. The “Women on Top” podcast will be found through The Goop Podcast channel. A representative at Banana Republic would not disclose how the company planned on promoting the series either through its social channels, digitally or in stores. Goop also works with Banana Republic to curate clothing items for sale online at the retailer’s website.
- Yum Brands’ KFC raised eyebrows when it stealthily announced a new gaming venture on Twitter, with a “KFC Gaming” handle and a trailer teasing content to come. Even more eyebrows were raised when the first release turned out to be an animated dating simulator game featuring an anime-version of Colonel Sanders. The brand worked with visual agency Psyop to develop the game called “I Love You Colonel Sanders,” which is free to play on the Steam video game platform. The object of the game is to be a successful business partner of the Colonel and “win his heart,” as well as to reach young consumers and garner some publicity. I’m excited to see what else KFC Gaming continues to develop.
- Last spring, L’Oreal unveiled a direct-to-consumer hair color brand called Color&Co that asks consumers to visit ColorAndCo.com to get a live video consultation (or they can answer a quiz) to receive personalized treatment. The site generates a customized hair color for that shopper, adjusting tones and colors to create a unique color that can be ordered on the site and saved for reordering. The product is delivered with instructions on how to apply. In September, L’Oreal added to the consultation experience by employing augmented reality technology to overlay a virtual color onto a consumer using a camera phone or desktop camera – or the color can be virtually applied to a photo. In the spring, L’Oreal purchased Canadian company Modiface, a leader in AR and virtual try-on experiences in the beauty space.
- Using a #TargetTalent tag to mark its partners, Target appears to be putting into motion a new influencer program, per posts on Instagram from several influencers who joined the team and from online content curator Tubefilter. The influencers will dole out exclusive content to their followers, and the list of participants so far include Ned Fulmer (who posted on Instagram his excitement for officially partnering with the retailer), Bobby Berk of the show “Queer Eye,” Parker Kit Hill, Laura Izumikawa, Lauren Giraldo, Maya Vorderstrasse and Elaine Welteroth.
- Google’s Jacquard team originally worked with Levi’s to create a denim smart jacket with which technology-enabled threads connect and communicate to a user’s phone to control a phone call or music with the touch of a coat sleeve. Now, Jacquard announced a smart backpack with fashion brand Saint Laurent. The backpack is called Cit-e, and incorporates the Jacquard smart technology into a tag on the backpack and inside the straps. Users download the Jacquard mobile app, which syncs up with the backpack. Then certain gestures on the backpack, like a touch of a strap, enable the backpack wearer to pause, skip or find out the name of a song playing, for example. Other tools include assigning a gesture to power up Google Assistant to ask a question, or get updates on traffic and weather from Google Assistant. The backpack is available from the Saint Laurent site for $995.
- Pizza Hut has been leveraging its official NFL sponsorship through a rewards program and virtual game called “Hut Hut Win.” Consumers can register to play at HutHutWin.com, and for every $5 spent on pizza during the season, the consumer earns a game piece to play online that can result in instant prizes like merchandise, a trip to Super Bowl LIV, and unique experiences with NFL players such as a ping pong pizza party with Todd Gurley. This is Pizza Hut’s second year as sponsor of the NFL. For the opening night of the 2019 season, Pizza Hut used its Twitter channel to engage with fans to help choose an ultimate prize for the contest that resulted in tickets to the 2020 NFL Draft weekend.
- Playing off the idea of Bitcoin digital currency, PepCoin is a new loyalty program from PepsiCo that rewards shoppers with cash back via Venmo or PayPal for purchasing a PepsiCo beverage and Frito-Lay snack together. Consumers scan specially marked packages with their mobile phones. Then, when enough rewards accrue to the $2 mark, that amount automatically transfers to the user’s Venmo or PayPal account. Consumers don’t need to download an app to play; they open their mobile browser to PepCoin.com to register and scan packages. While I would rarely stray from a Mountain Dew/Doritos combo, the promotion is a clever way to get shoppers to mix up combinations from the company’s large portfolio of nearly 70 drinks and snacks.
- Puma opened a digitally enhanced flagship store in New York City backed by an internet of things platform that makes product in the store intelligent and trackable. The shoe company is adding digital smart labels to each product in the store, powered by Avery Dennison and its Janela solution. The items will additionally be connected to a cloud-based platform from a company called EVRYTHNG that manages and drives digital intelligence around the products. RFID tech is integrated into the product labels, too, helping to manage and optimize stock efficiencies as well as create potential around a future cashierless checkout option. Working with Zappar and Alternative Genius, the flagship store will also have QR codes on in-store displays that shoppers can scan with their phones using a Puma web app to unlock augmented reality experiences. For example, a code on an entrance sign births a virtual version of the Puma mascot to take a selfie with. In the basketball section of the store, each shoe has a code and unique experience. Earlier in the year, Puma launched a shoe called LQD CELL that has its own mobile app, allowing users to engage with the shoe by adding AR-based effects to it and playing interactive games tied to it.