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By Madeleine Streets

For most of 2020, brand marketing has been a critical way for companies to connect with their consumer and try to preserve their loyalty. But these direct communications mostly focus on existing customers or those familiar with the brand; shoppers must have already opted into email or SMS updates, or visited the brand’s site. In order to reach new customers, brands must explore shared locations like marketplaces or social media.

“Reaching shoppers on external platforms is critical because it’s your way to introduce them to your brand on their turf, rather than your turf,” said Kevin Dugan, VP of agency services at performance marketing agency DMi Partners. “As someone is browsing Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, they are actively engaged with the content and if you meet them with the correct messaging and tone, it’s a powerful way to bring your products into their world.”

Unlike other segments, retail has been given designated advertising spaces within these platforms – think the Instagram “shop now” function or Google Shopping – and this ensures fertile ground for marketing initiatives. But while these platforms aren’t new or unknown to brands, effective strategies for social media, Google and e-commerce marketplaces each require tailored approaches.

For one, competition on these platforms is tough and can come at a high price; smaller businesses that need the exposure may be the same ones that are unable to afford to market their product extensively. Moreover, the saturated space means that effective advertisements need to stand out and resonate with the right audience, in order to generate real benefit for the brand.

“The way that these platforms have evolved over the last couple of years, there’s a lot more levers to pull around targeting that didn’t exist before,” said Mike Farrell, senior director of integrated digital strategy at marketing platform Sidecar. “A thoughtful targeting strategy would allow retailers to take that limited budget that they might have and really focus it in on the highest value customers that they’re going after.”

Platforms like Sidecar are specifically focused on creating marketing for these external platforms due to their specific requirements and data-rich nature. These function as a double-edged sword: With the right support, a company can tailor its marketing to each audience and reap rewards; without the ability to leverage data and optimize strategy accordingly, brands are likely to find their messages lost amongst the competition.

Then there’s the diversity of campaigns needed within each platform. DMi Partners’ Dugan warns against brands just setting a few generic social ads live and expecting traffic to roll in. Instead, he argued the importance of identifying different consumer groups based on their experience-level with the brand.

“We are always advocating for subtle differences in messaging depending on the audience we’re reaching on these channels,” said Dugan. “We suggest at least having top of funnel social ads, for your behavioural and interest targeting; bottom of funnel ads, for your retargeting audiences; and winback ads, for your custom audience of past customers.”

From a content perspective, marketing should consider the platform it’s on. Social media sites are well-suited to discovery and brand storytelling, although Dugan highlights the opportunity of Facebook Shops for a more direct-conversion experience. Google Shopping and Amazon are the most purchase-driven; clear product imagery and information performs well for shoppers who are ready to buy.

Farrell recommends that brands use their marketing to spotlight their best performing styles but in colourways that perhaps aren’t as popular; this evokes familiarity and novelty simultaneously. As a result, brands might be able to reduce the common diminishing of sales that occurs once the preferred shades sell out and also optimize inventory, which is a challenging area for many companies right now.

Feature Image Credit: URUPONG – ADOBE STOCK

By Madeleine Streets

Sourced from FN

By Chris Ward

COVID-19 has forced many brands to deliver years-long transformation programmes in the space of  a few weeks.

It’s been well-documented how quickly many brands have had to accelerate certain aspects of their digital transformation plans as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

But according to the Covid-19 Digital Engagement Reportthe speed at which some companies have had to push forward their digital agendas has been extraordinary.

Surveying 2,000+ customer experience, marketing, operations and IT professionals, Twilio found that brands had had to accelerate their customer communications transformation strategies by an average of 6.1 years.

27% of respondents said COVID-19 had fast tracked their transformation plans by between 5-9 years. Astonishingly, 19% said it had pushed things forward by between 10-14 years.

Twilio

Source: Covid-19 Digital Engagement Report

Omnichannel focus

Twilio’s study revealed a number of other surprising statistics, no less that COVID-19 had led to numerous barriers to digital transformation being broken down.

The top barrier was ‘getting executive approval’, which 37% of respondents said had been broken down as a result of coronavirus; this was followed by a ‘lack of clear strategy’ at 37% and a ‘reluctance to replace legacy software, at 35%.

Insufficient budget had also been a key factor for 34%, prior to the coronavirus crisis.

As well as breaking down barriers, COVID-19 has also propelled brands’ omnichannel communications strategies. 54% of brands have increased their focus on omnichannel communications, with 53% adding new communication channels since the start of global lockdowns in March, and 52% ‘speeding up their digital communications strategies’.

“Over the last few months, we’ve seen years-long digital transformation roadmaps compressed into days and weeks in order to adapt to the new normal as a result of COVID-19,” said Glenn Weinstein, chief customer officer at Twilio, responding to the findings.

“This has affected everything from the ways in which businesses talk to their customers, to how their workplaces function. We’re seeing how digital technologies are being used to completely reimagine the business landscape.  Communications technology is at the heart of this transition to a flexible remote working model for employees, and a seamless, digital customer experience for businesses at large.”

Behaviour changes

According to Contact Babel research in June, 51% of contact centres have reported an increase in email use, with 47% reporting increases in webchats and 37% report an increase in social media use.

Zendesk research also highlights that customer support tickets have seen a huge surge in usage on messaging channels such as WhatsApp, which has increased 148% since late February.

Despite the huge jump in consumers wanting to communicate with brands, they still expect a human response, further complicating brands’ communication strategies.

Sitel’s recent survey and report, COVID-19: The CX Impact, revealed that 87% of consumers want to connect with a human to resolve critical issues, despite having a preference for resolving problems with self-service.

21% of consumers indicated they were happy to start using voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa as way of engaging with brands, yet a huge proportion of the research’s survey also acknowledged they valued emotional intelligence and empathy in a customer service interaction, something they were unable to obtain from automated assistants and bots.

“The last three months have challenged consumers and brands like never before, and we are all faced with understanding a new reality: How do we shift from adapting to the crisis to driving a success strategy in this future world?” said Martin Wilkinson-Brown, global CMO at Sitel Group.

“In this quickly changing world, customer experience is truly one of the only ways for brands to stay competitive within their industries and now more than ever it’s critical to meet consumers where they want to interact with brands.

“Combining human-led technologies with searchable knowledge bases and even branded online communities to handle common issues and typical contact drivers will reduce inbound call volumes and traffic to other live channels. This will actually drive costs down while improving CX for all customers, regardless of their channel of choice.”

Feature Image Credit:  istock/CSA

By Chris Ward

Sourced from mycustomer

By Benjamin Vaughan

Establishing customer engagement and keeping them engaged is more important than ever for brands. Now that many brands have temporarily lost the ability for invaluable face-to-face contact with customers, it’s crucial that they diversify their engagement for this new normal.

What are brands having to do differently?

Where possible, brands are figuring out if and how they can offer their services online. This is understandably tricky for people like hairdressers and massage therapists. And even if people working in these professions did manage to offer services online, they do so at the risk of their post-lockdown income—will people want to pay $50 for a massage if their partner can do it for free?

Many of the bigger consumer brands quickly boosted their capacity for home deliveries to account for a much higher online demand. And some restaurants and bars developed delivery systems for the same reason.

Aside from simply making an income from customers, brands need to work out how to keep their customers engaged with their products or services.

Livestreaming

Customers can’t pop into their local branches for now so they’re not able to get a feel for the brands’ latest offerings. Through livestreaming, brands can give customers introductions to new products and services, delivered by a representative of the brand, just as if they visited a branch.

Fitness and wellness coaches have embraced livestreaming as a way to host classes and training (often for free). Giving customers the real-time presentation a livestream affords, a brand can really make them feel included and maintain the idea that they’re consuming the product or service.

Goodwill gestures and rewards

Brands need loyalty right now. And the kind of loyalty we’re used to isn’t possible—rewarding x amount of purchases with a free gift isn’t very useful. Offering gestures of goodwill and usable rewards will make customers feel thankful and it’ll give them a helpful reminder that the brand is still around and that it’ll still be there when lockdowns are eased.

Goodwill gestures have proved to be valuable to brands from a marketing perspective too. Lists have been doing the rounds of companies offering discounts to essential workers and stepping up to the fight against the virus. Among them are the likes ArmaniKiehl’s and Co-op. Conversely, those that haven’t shown the same goodwill now belong to their respective lists of brands to avoid.

Keep customers informed

As a way of keeping customers included and nudging them with a reminder that they still exist, brands should keep customers up to date. Whether it’s updating them about new products or announcing a charitable scheme, customers will appreciate the heads up. And since they’re online more than usual anyway at the moment, they might even feel more inclined to share it with their network.

Don’t stop there

Here are a few more tried and tested ways brands and online communities can boost engagement (whether or not there’s a pandemic):

Offer value

People will engage with truly valuable content. This might be through blogs, video, images, livestreams, and so on. Whatever form it comes in, it needs to inspire, entertain and inform.

Take a personalized approach

People thought chatbots would revolutionize customer service. Those people were wrong. Customers still need the personal touch. Brands still need to make them feel valued and listened to—they must be responsive to their community’s questions and comments

Help customers to help others

Step 2 can lead to step 3. Brands want their customers to contribute too. Customers can sometimes take the role of ad hoc customer service representatives and marketeers, if they’re treated well in the first place.

Reaffirm your mission

Customers should be reminded of why brands exist. What are they trying to achieve? What problem do they solve? What is their mission? Customers need to feel the excitement they felt the first time they came across a brand.

Be transparent

Customers respect honesty and transparency, even when things aren’t going so well, When brands communicate openly and trust customers’ perspectives, they’ll win trust and strengthen loyalty.

Stay consistent

Remaining consistent is key to building brand loyalty. If a brand is consistent with what it provides, it’ll become ingrained in customers’ minds and loyalty will become second nature.

Conclusion

It’s vital that brands maintain their customers’ engagement, and it’s at times like these that businesses experiment with new ways of delivering services and satisfying customers. That’s really exciting and let’s hope it sets a trend for the future too.

By Benjamin Vaughan

musician, I had my own community of fans and followers. What I didn’t have was my own space to grow and manage that community in the way that worked for me. So, I set out to create that space, and in doing so, found a lot of other community managers with the same problem as me. Health and wellness coaches, film stars, YouTubers, politicians and celebrity chefs were all looking for a solution to the same problem. Disciple is a community media platform that, unlike Facebook or a website, empowers community hosts to build, manage and control their own private, social apps. Our platform gives communities their own mobile meeting spaces to gather and interact in the ways that work for them.

Sourced from Forbes

By Katie Sehl,

Like most social media trends, Instagram trends move quickly. And in 2020, change has been fast and furious, with a global pandemic, social uprising, and competitors, shaking things up.

Trends make the difference between looking out of touch or ahead of the curve. That doesn’t mean you should throw your social media content calendar out the window. It means you should stay informed and stay flexible.

There’s a lot to stay on top of at Instagram. From Instagram Story trends to Live Shopping, and Instagram Shops, we break down the biggest trends on the app.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

9 of the most important Instagram trends in 2020

These are the top trends on Instagram to watch right now.

1. Brands and influencers reckon with racial inequality

On June 2, Instagram feeds were checkered with black squares in support of Blackout Tuesday. The original concept, The Show Must Be Paused, was created by music executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, as a day for the industry to “take a beat for an honest, reflective, and productive conversation about what actions we need to collectively take to support the Black community.”

But the black squares swiftly became symbols of performative allyship. The posts inadvertently drowned out the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, a channel activists use to relay vital information. Many brands and influencers who participated were called out for virtue marketing or hypocrisy, spurring calls for transparency and action.

Designer Aurora James’s #15PercentPledge initiative calls on big retailers to pledge %15 of shelf space to Black-owned businesses. Brands including Sephora, Rent the Runway, Cupcakes and Cashmere have since made the pledge. UOMA Beauty founder Sharon Chuter launched #PullUpOrShutUp to challenge brands to back their marketing with employee diversity statistics.

Instagram plans to reexamine how its policies, tools, and processes impact Black and other underrepresented communities on Instagram. The company will focus on addressing harassment, account verification, content distribution, and algorithmic bias.

Black creators and professionals have also been speaking out about tokenization, pay disparities, and being sidelined. Several celebspublic figures, and influencers have responded to this disparity by sharing Black influencers and businesses or hosting account takeovers. As a result, many Black creators have seen their followings double overnight.

The social momentum behind Black Lives Matter is stronger than ever. But as initiatives like #PullUpOrShutUp demonstrate, brands need to know the difference between social trends and social movements. As eTalk CTV reporter Tyrone Rex Edwards said, “My trauma is not a trend.”

Anti-racism, inclusive marketing, equal pay and opportunity are not trends. They’re the new norm and the bare minimum of what consumers expect from brands going forward.

2. Instagram goes Live

Stay-at-home orders and event cancellations have helped propel Instagram Live viewership figures to new heights. Between February and March, the number of people tuning in for live broadcasts rose by 70%. More than 800 million people now watch live video daily across Instagram and Facebook.

Live lineups have been packed with star power. DJ D-Nice’s #ClubQuarantine sets have featured shoutouts to Rihanna, Zuckerberg, and Joe Biden as the viewership count soared above 100,000. Former U.S. President Barack Obama and Justin Bieber were among the 50,000 viewers punctuating a live convo between NBA star Stephen Curry and Dr. Anthony Fauci with emoji.

As people look for ways to replace in-person activities, brands and creators have jumped on live, too. In fact, 80% of live broadcasters have fewer than 1,000 followers.

Instagram Live sessions include everything from cocktail and comedy hours to virtual protests, yoga classes, and drawing tutorials. Desktop functionality, added in April, has made tuning in a lot more practical.

Like Instagram Stories, live videos tend to be more intimate and spontaneous than posts in the feed. Hosts can also respond to questions and comments in real-time, which is why Live videos tend to average six times more interactions on Facebook.

It’s too soon to know what staying power Instagram Live may have in a post-COVID world. For now, Instagram is rolling out enhancements, such as the option to save videos to IGTV and run fundraisers. Live Shopping and Badges allow creators to monetize livestreams.

Instagram is also testing showing two-rows of Stories in the feed, with live videos up top.

Until in-person activities resume, expect to see more memes and innovation on the Instagram Live front.

3. Creators can now make money directly on Instagram

Since its inception in 2010, Instagram creators have mostly monetized their audiences through affiliate marketing and brand partnerships. New features introduced in May now allow creators to make money directly.

Instagram is now testing Badges with a small group of creators and businesses. During a live broadcast, viewers can spend 99 cents to $4.99 for heart badges to stand out in the comment stream and unlock features. During the test phase, creators will receive 100% of revenue earned from these badges.

Instagram influencer doing a live video

Source: Instagram

Tests for IGTV ads are underway as well. These ads can last up to 15 seconds and appear after someone clicks to watch the full IGTV video. On par with YouTube, 55% of ad revenue is shared with the creator. In addition to ads, Live Shopping tools now let creators and brands tag products during live videos.

Influencer doing an Instagram live skincare tutorial

Source: Instagram

These changes come as competition to retain creators heats up between platforms. They also cater to a cohort of “specialized” creators who monetize their audiences by offering valuable content, rather than featuring valuable products and experiences in their content. It’s why many are shying away from the label influencer in favor of the term creator, or even ambassador.

Brand partnerships will still remain an important source of revenue, but they’ve already become a lot less transactional. Expect to see some fine-tuning in the Brand Collabs Manager from Instagram (and Facebook).

4. Instagram Shops set brands up to cash in on conversions

Instagram Shops promise to make it easier for brands to make money, too. Shops let businesses create a storefront directly in the app, so people can buy without the need to visit a website. By eliminating this friction, brands should be able to drive significantly higher conversions and sales.

In May, Instagram and Facebook launched a phased rollout to businesses globally. The plan is for the shopping experience to eventually be integrated across all of Facebook’s apps. Once complete, it will mean that when someone puts something in their cart on Facebook, they can check out later on Instagram using stored credit card info or Facebook Pay (which will likely be integrated, too).

Instagram shopping in Explore tab

Source: Facebook

To improve discoverability, Instagram will soon have a dedicated Shopping tab, like the Explore tab, which already features a shopping section. Accounts with shops have a View Shop button on their profiles, as well as a shop tab. Businesses can customize how collections appear, connect loyalty programs, and benefit from the platform’s built-in AI to create personalized experiences.

There are now more ways to spend money in Stories, too. In addition to product tags, companies can share gift card, food order and donation Stickers.

Set up Instagram Shopping so you can sell your products.

5. Shopping and advertising get AI-powered upgrades

More people shopping across Instagram and Facebook means more data. And more data brings the company closer to its vision of “making anything shoppable while personalizing to individual taste.”

To make anything shoppable, the Facebook engineers have developed an A.I called GrokNet that can automatically tag the products in a business’s catalog in seconds. The A.I., which is already used on Facebook Marketplace, can scan photos, identify attributes such as colour and style, cross-reference with catalogs, and suggest descriptions. On the flip side, this data is used to deliver better search results and targeted ads to users.

Rotating View is another A.I. project that aims to enhance social shopping. The feature, which allows people to create 3D-like images, is currently being tested on Marketplace. Maybe it will crop up on Instagram, too.

Instagram may soon introduce ads that use augmented reality to let people “try on” beauty products or preview furniture in their homes. Facebook already offers an AR ad format, and Zuckerberg recently announced more developments are on the horizon.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps a lifestyle photographer used to grow from 0 to 600,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

Get the free guide right now!

Read our complete guide on how to advertise on Instagram.

6. Instagram Guides accompany the rise of “info-social”

Brands and influencers often get asked for recommendations, from “where should we eat in Marrakech?” to “how do you talk to your kids about climate change?”. In the past, these requests have been handled by referring followers to highlights or blog posts. Now guides can be created directly on Instagram.

several different Instagram guides

Source: Instagram

According to Instagram head Adam Mosseri, guides were initially developed for travel, but that idea was curtailed by the coronavirus outbreak. Instead, they launched under the theme of wellbeing, with more themes coming up. Instagram recently assembled a racial justice resource guide, too.

Guides have their own devoted tab on profiles, and can be shared to Stories or appear in the Explore tab. They can include curated posts and videos with added notes and tips.

There’s a growing appetite for informative social content. On TikTok, educational videos are surging in popularity, especially in China, with a reported 14 million “knowledge-based” posts created last year. In the United States, career coaches, personal finance experts, and fitness experts are finding success on the app.

On Instagram, everything from “practice accounts” to doctor and nurse micro- and nano-influencers are popular, proving that engaged communities are much more valuable than high follower counts.

7. Values take center stage

Authenticity is a big buzzword in the influencer industry. But it’s not just an influencer trend. Consumers increasingly demand authenticity from brands, too, especially in the form of transparency.

As brands and influencers use their platforms to take a stand, promote values, and support causes, transparency will be more necessary to retain authenticity. For example, sustainable beauty brand Elate Cosmetics goes into great detail to explain the eco-attributes of its products and practices.

Influencers will share more about their decision making in general, and be more upfront about why they partner with specific brands. To maintain trust, disclaimers and clear labelling between spon-con and regular posts will be necessary, particularly in Stories.

With social advocacy on the rise, Instagram has added several fundraising tools, including live fundraisers and donation stickers. The company is also reportedly testing the option to add fundraisers to profiles. Nonprofits already have access to account Donate buttons.

Instagram is also adding context to posts from high-reach accounts. In April, the company started piloting a feature that shows location and where followers are based on posts from these accounts.

Instagram post showing where account is based

Source: Facebook

8. TikTok, Twitter, and Giphy invade Instagram

The days when Instagram was only a place for filtered images are long gone. Instagram’s feed now features everything from memes and Twitter takes to TikTok challenges, special effects, music, and more.

To keep up with competition from TikTok and Snapchat, Instagram’s been on a feature-adding bonanza—especially in Stories. The recent acquisition of Giphy, which already sourced 25% of its traffic from Instagram, will add to a collection of interactive features that already includes stickers, filters, and other special effects.

Despite more content variety in the feed, the Instagram aesthetic still creeps in. As Arimeta Diop points on in Vanity Fair: “It’s the end of the iPhone-Notes-App-Apology Era.” Bold typefaces, templates, and hand-drawn sketches have proven more popular, thanks in part to Instagram’s strong design community. Infographics and visual storytelling have taken off, too.

Most cross-platform sharing is up to the users, except when it comes to Facebook’s family of apps. Further integration between Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, Messenger—on the front and back end—is looming. Beyond a fully integrated shopping experience, Facebook is developing an option for users to view and reply to Instagram Stories from Facebook.

Facebook is also planning to merge messaging across its apps by the end of this year. Once complete, Instagram users would be able to message friends on WhatsApp and Messenger, even if those friends don’t have Instagram accounts. This level of integration would make the app family comparable with the WeChat, the super app that dominates in China.

Manage your Instagram presence alongside your other social channels and save time using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish posts, engage the audience, and measure performance. Try it free today.

By Katie Sehl

Sourced from Hootsuite

By

Brands need to focus on hyper-localisation by connecting with consumers where they are, as Covid-19 has dramatically changed consumer behaviour and altered the path-to-purchase, according to Facebook and Boston Consulting Group.

According to a new report called ‘Turn the Tide’, released by Facebook India and Boston Consulting Group, the use of micro-targeting can help brands get the first-mover advantage. This is because countries are being divided into different zones, with distinct restrictions due to the pandemic, so they need to build social connections despite social distancing, by engaging with consumers in their context

To cope with pandemic lockdown, which has caused significant disruption for communities and businesses, people are spending more time on social media platforms. This means brands have an opportunity to build stronger dialogues and deeper connections with users.

The aim of the guide, according to Facebook India and Boston Consulting Group, is to guide brands to adapt to the pandemic and ensure business continuity.

Nimisha Jain, the managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group, says: “We are experiencing unprecedented shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviours as 80%+ consumers will continue to practice social distancing and are bringing the outside inside, over 40% of consumers are dialling up on health and wellness spends, e-commerce adoption has already advanced by two-three years, to name a few.”

“These aren’t just temporary surges, and many will last longer and become more defining traits. Our analysis reveals that only one in six companies emerged stronger in past crises. Players who show the agility to reinvent their value propositions, go-to-market plans and business models to address these demand shifts, will be the ones that set themselves apart from the pack.”

In addition, the report also shares actionable guidance for brands to build for the new consumer journeys in times of Covid-19 and beyond.

For example, brands can bring alive experiences through virtual launches and product demos as people turn to virtual experiences for every facet of their life. Facebook said it is already seeing more brands explore Facebook and Instagram ‘Live’ to connect with their followers and customers, with brands now thinking about using social media platforms for new product launches too.

Heeru Dingra, the chief executive officer at WATConsult tells The Drum the agency has modified its planning and strategy around the new consumer journeys, urging its clients to follow a simple mantra of ‘solve, serve and sell’.

She explains brands should focus on solving the problems their consumers face, serve their purpose and the result thereof could be the sale of services or products. She notes a lot of brands have understood this concept and have already started altering their approach to fit this mantra.

“We leveraged the power of gaming and re-created one of the most iconic games of all time, Ludo, for our client Tata Motors. Titled #SafetyFirst Ludo, this version aims to spread awareness about the importance of personal hygiene and social distancing amid the Covid-19 outbreak,” she says.

She also calls out work by Bajaj Allianz General Insurance called #CareWillOvercome, which salutes frontline workers, while a #ReconnectWithStarbucks campaign turned the act of baristas calling out people’s names into a digital phenomenon.

She adds: “These examples summarize how we integrated the need of the hour that is to maintain social distancing, continue to concentrate on personal hygiene and at the same time have our heartfelt appreciation for the ones who have been fighting for us day and night, into our brand approach in some way. This helps to amplify the brand message while being sensitive to the current situation, serving the purpose of extending the required communication and increasing as well as sustaining brand recall.”

The report also advised brands to look at their media mix models to drive growth by aligning to new media landscapes. According to the report, when brands, especially those with traditional product categories, start spending more online, they need to understand incremental outcomes, as well as cross-platform efficiency.

This would increase the need for digital measurement standards, such as custom mix modelling (CMM) by Nielsen, which Facebook said it had piloted last year.

Gautam Mehra, the chief data officer for South Asia and chief executive officer of programmatic at Dentsu Aegis Network observes the importance of moving away from traditional marketing metrics to real business metrics that can be measured and improved on an ongoing basis.

“With the impetus of commerce, CRM and digital transformation, I think, every company will now have a direct-to-consumer line of business and will want to bring themselves closer to the consumer, and rely less on the intermediaries,” he explains.

While most brands are dealing with huge change across many aspects of business, focusing on the changing customer journey is a good place for marketing to focus attention.

Feature Image Credit: the report also shares actionable guidance for brands to build for the new consumer journeys in times of Covid-19 and beyond.

By

Sourced from The Drum

Marketers came roaring into 2020 with plans to spend heavily on in-store experiences and brand activations such as pop-ups and parties. But with a large number of Americans still facing stay-at-home orders, industry experts are observing a shift to a different marketing approach: influencers on video platforms.

“Many small- to mid-size apparel brands are focusing in on three platforms: TikTok, YouTube and Instagram,” said Clayton Durant, founder and managing partner at consulting firm CAD Management. “Quarantine has bumped up the amount of time spent on these platforms.”

Influencer marketing is not new, but the financial strain felt by many consumers is changing the way brands approach it. Durant said traditional advertising campaigns are no longer deemed tasteful nor are they driving the meaningful engagement required to convert sales. Instead of glamorous, aspirational images, consumers want meaningful, authentic content from sources they trust. Increasingly, that means social media micro-influencers.

For many brands, partnering with a series of micro-influencers is becoming a more reliable source of marketing than traditional campaigns. These influencers usually have 50,000 to 2 million followers on social media, but speak to an engaged audience with more followers than many top celebrities. They are also less expensive to partner with.

“Many of these influencer deals give the brand the most amount of leverage in the transaction, allowing the brand to get a better ROI,” said Durant. “If you handle micro-influencer campaigns right there is more of a ‘partnership’ feel to these transactions; many micro-influencers are going above and beyond their deal points.”

Finding the most cost-effective marketing approach is more critical than ever, with many brands suffering from sales drops. But the disappearance of live marketing has also allowed for the redistribution of resources to social media, SEO and influencer campaigns. Durant believes that investing in these partnerships now could also pay off in the long term, as brands and consumers adjust to the new retail landscape.

“I expect brick-and-mortar foot traffic to take at least a year to get back to ‘normal,’” said Durant. “To make up for the loss of foot traffic, brands are going to turn to platforms like YouTube, TikTok or Twitch to create one-of-a-kind virtual shopping experiences that mimic walking in the store. That is where partnering with influencers to host digital store experiences could be quite powerful.”

TikTok, one of the pandemic’s success stories with 315 million app downloads this quarter, has also observed this shift. The platform has recently launched an ad format for influencers, enabling its more prominent users to include “shop now” links in their videos. For brands to capitalize on this feature, though, they will need to partner with that select group.

Feature Image Credit: Shutterstock

By Madeleine Streets

Sourced from FN

By

Self-quarantining and social distancing have taken a toll on the business of fashion, and on a personal level, many of us have swapped ready-to-wear for loungewear. In a lot of ways, fashion’s taken a back seat to the booming world of self-care — and topping our list is skincare. To transition from style snob to beauty snob, we’ve enlisted the expertise of grooming connoisseur Garrett Munce, who cleverly compares your favorite fashion brands to their skincare equivalent.

Skincare is like fashion in a variety of ways, and not just because they’re both aesthetic pursuits. First, it’s a personal journey. The same products that work for your friend might not work for you. Second, both skincare and fashion are about branding.

Think about it: what makes you pick up one item off a rack packed with others? The label plays a big part. The same goes for why you pick a certain skincare product off a crowded shelf: you’re drawn, know it or not, to the brand. And, these days, guys want their face cleanser and moisturizer to do more than just cleanse and protect their skin. We want products that fit into our lifestyle, that we’re not embarrassed to leave out on our bathroom counters, that have vibes instead of just ingredients.

If you know fashion, you’ll understand skincare. These are the brands you should know, alongside their fashion equivalents.

Bode = Vintner’s Daughter

Highsnobiety

Bode represents a world where people are willing to pay huge sums of money to feel like they’re acting sustainably, and those people are also using Vintner’s Daughter. One of the brands that launched the current Green Explosion, Vintner’s Daughter only has two products: a serum and an essence made from all-natural ingredients, both of which will set you back a couple of hundred dollars. A cult following of green-minded fancy people has popped up around both brands, who believe that conspicuous consumption and harsh chemicals aren’t necessary to be cool.

Chanel = La Prairie

Highsnobiety

Like the storied House of Chanel, favored by fancy grandmothers and young hypebeasts alike, the skincare “house” of La Prairie has a long history. The brand extends back to 1931 with the opening of Clinique La Prairie and the cellular rejuvenation research of Dr. Paul Niehans. Like Coco Chanel, Dr. Niehans had a vision, and almost a century later that vision is still something you want to put on your body. Nowadays, also like Chanel, La Prairie is expensive AF, but completely worth it, according to brand acolytes. The rich moisturizers and silky eye creams might have a decidedly old lady scent, but if you ask us, that only adds to the experience.

Goyard = Biologique Recherche

Highsnobiety

Even when Goyard wasn’t at the front of every stylish dude’s mind, it was still churning out luggage for those in the know. You’ve probably never heard of its skincare equivalent unless you follow beauty influencers on Instagram: Biologique Recherche. Its hero product, an exfoliating toner called Lotion P50, has been referred to as “Jesus in a bottle,” and seems to be the desert-island product of anyone serious about skincare. It’s expensive and hard to find, but using it means you know something your friends don’t.

Tom Ford = Tom Ford

Highsnobiety

OK, this is an easy one, but think about it: can any brand get to the level of Tom Ford without actually being Tom Ford? The notoriously well-groomed designer first extended his taste level to fragrance, creating an extensive line of instantly iconic scents and, just last year, came out with a new unisex skincare line to match. Tom Ford Research isn’t going to set you back as much as a sharkskin suit, but in skincare terms, it comes pretty close. There are only three products: a moisturizer, serum, and an eye cream, but if we’re to learn anything from Ford, luxury is in the details.

1017 ALYX 9SM = The Nue Co

Highsnobiety

The whole point of 1017 ALYX 9SM is to blend what we know — streetwear, tailoring, and technical fabrics — to create something surprising. The same ethos goes into The Nue Co, an innovative grooming and wellness company from the UK. All of the supplements are fused with the combination of nature and science, and can combat everything from bloating to skin issues. Teaching us that better skin is possible from the inside is the type of out-of-the-box thinking that The Nue Co is best at. Plus, the bottles fit perfectly in a 1017 ALYX 9SM harness pouch.

Snow Peak = SK-II

Highsnobiety

Japanese brand Snow Peak is the gold standard of design-minded functionality, even for people who have never built a campfire in their lives. Knowing about Snow Peak gives you instant cred, and the same goes for its skincare equivalent SK-II. The products themselves, like the essence and mask, are beloved around the world because they’ve been perfected over the years to not just work, but make life easier. But more than just using the products, both SK-II and Snow Peak are about a lifestyle, and actually owning a piece of the brand signals that you value functionality and design (and are willing to pay a premium for it).

Jil Sander = Dr. Barbara Sturm

Highsnobiety

The similarities between Jil Sander and Dr. Barbara Sturm go beyond just the founders (both are blond, German ladies). While Sander made her mark on the fashion world with her minimal designs and created a global brand founded on a “less is more” attitude, Dr. Sturm’s ethos comes from using scientifically-proven ingredients to perfect your skin. The simple, minimal packaging is one thing, but inside the bottles are advanced formulas that work to rebuild skin and attack a variety of issues, including some you can’t even see (like pollution). A Dr. Barbara Sturm serum is the Jil Sander white button-down of skincare: not everyone will get it (or understand why you paid so much for it), but the trained eye can tell you’re onto something.

Supreme = Glossier

Highsnobiety

Every hypebeast waiting in line outside the Supreme store in Manhattan has a girlfriend waiting in a similar line a few blocks away: outside Glossier. Are the logos similar? Yes. Have both brands mastered the art of the drop? Yes. Can people get enough? No. Where Supreme constantly reinvents classic garms like tees and sweats and makes them cool just by slapping on a logo, Glossier has done the same to easy, no-fuss skincare. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every face serum, they say, you just need to put it in a slyly designed bottle and give it a great marketing campaign (or lack thereof). For the record, both brands are unisex, and in the case of Glossier, there’s even an Instagram account to prove it.

J.Crew = Kiehl’s

Highsnobiety

Peek into the closets of half of America (and most of the Brooklyn dad population), and you’ll find at least one item from J.Crew. Peek into those same dudes’ medicine cabinets, and you’ll likely find Kiehl’s. Both classic American brands are now mainstays of any red-blooded guy’s style. Thanks to both brands’ availability at malls, they’re easy to find and meet a need that most guys have: to look put together without necessarily standing out or opening their wallet too much. Like J.Crew’s democratic, slightly-elevated basics, Kiehl’s has an extensive line (and sub-lines) of skincare products that work for every type of guy and make you look good without going over the top.

Gucci = Buly 1803

Highsnobiety

Did Alessandro Michele directly reference Buly 1803 when he took the helm of Gucci? If we were to take that bet, we’d put our money on “yes.” Now, it’s easy to confuse the packaging of the two-centuries-old French apothecary brand with what we think of as Michele’s signature style: maximalist, ornate, and vaguely mystical. Lotion tubes with tarot hands printed on them, face cleanser bottles with script words you can’t quite pronounce, hand soaps that smell like a grandma but in a good way — they’re all at home in the print-crazy, layered, cartoonish world of Gucci. Is it something you stole from your grandmother or something you bought from Mr. Porter last week? In the case of both brands, it’s almost impossible to tell.

Nike = Unilever

Highsnobiety

While global force Nike has gradually taken over closets and decided what we wear in and out of the gym, another conglomerate has taken over our personal care: Unilever. What it lacks in name recognition, Unilever makes up for in reach: it’s the company that owns Axe, Suave, Noxzema, Dove, Vaseline, and tons more. Walk down any men’s grooming aisle (or look in your own bathroom) and half the products are made by Unilever. It even has its own version of high-end NikeLab: a luxury portfolio that includes brands like Dermalogica (a science-backed, very high-end skincare brand), REN (cutting-edge, clean skincare), and Living Proof (guy-friendly, solution-based haircare).

Acne Studios = Aesop

Highsnobiety

Acne Studios’ clothing signifies a certain commitment to an art degree (or anyone who wants to look like they have one). The clothes are minimal, sure, but hidden in the details are codes that the wearer might be wearing a T-shirt, but their T-shirt is cooler than yours. It’s a similar ability to build a lifestyle through subtlety that makes sustainably-minded, minimal-but-not skincare brand Aesop so desirable. One of the OG natural-inspired grooming companies, Aesop is all about effective ingredients in easy-to-use formulas with just-advanced-enough sounding names to confuse those left out of the loop. Everyone who’s anyone can identify a bottle of Aesop soap or hand cream sitting on a sink counter (and if they can’t, it’s lost on them).

Uniqlo = The Ordinary

Highsnobiety

From its innovative technology, like Heat Tech, to the consistent roster of surprising artist collabs to its high-end collabs that sell out in seconds, Uniqlo has cemented its place as a fashion force, price point be damned. Similarly, when The Ordinary launched in 2016, skincare pros were left gobsmacked at how such great products could be sold at such low prices (many of the products have a single-digit cost). And, like Uniqlo, The Ordinary prides itself on its ability to infuse its products with technology and craftsmanship more commonly found in products with much higher price tags.

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Sourced from HIGHSNOBIETY

By Cartier Stennis.

We are living in extraordinary times. And while it may not be business as usual, social media data can help us navigate this new norm. By looking at the conversations happening on Twitter and listening to direct feedback from people on the platform, we’ve gained a better understanding of what people expect from brands during this time.

Here’s what we’ve learned based on Twitter data:.

1. People are turning to social media during this crisis.

At a time like this, knowledge can be a grounding force. That’s why so many are logging on to Twitter to stay informed. In fact, as of March 23, quarter-to-date monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) increased by 23 percent year-over-year to 164 million.

It’s about more than information, though. People are turning to Twitter to learn the latest, but they’re also coming to find levity, take a mental break from the pandemic and stay connected with each other during this time of isolation.

This increase in people on Twitter has also led to higher video consumption. There’s been a steady year-over-year growth in video watch time across key categories such as entertainment (85 percent), news (73 percent), creator content (34 percent) and sports (31 percent).

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So what does this mean for the state of ad performance on social media in general and Twitter specifically?

 2. Ad performance remains stable.

Media Rating Council video view rates increased by 5.5 percentage points in March 2020 compared with March 2019 in the U.S., showing that ad receptivity remains strong, as people consume more promoted video content.

On top of that, the brand impact of ads remains healthy. Internal Twitter data from January to February 2020 compared with March 2020 shows that brand effect study results have remained positive. In fact, ad recall and brand awareness metrics increased modestly by 0.3 and 0.6 percentage points, respectively.

3. Ads translate to normalcy for users.

People on Twitter say seeing ads gives them a sense of normalcy. In fact, only 37 percent of people on Twitter in the U.S. believe it’s insensitive for brands to continue advertising as normal. What’s more, there’s particularly strong support for brands that use ads to showcase how they’re supporting their communities.

Now that we know people expect to hear from brands, what should you say?

4. Actions speak louder than words.

Of those surveyed, people on Twitter specifically want to see how brands are supporting others, be it vulnerable individuals (86 percent), frontline staff (82 percent), their own employees (80 percent) and their local communities (77 percent).

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What you say matters. So does the way you say it. People on Twitter are most interested in seeing brands take on supportive (45 percent), informative (44 percent) and positive (35 percent) tones on social media.

When it comes to advertising during crises, don’t steer clear. People want to feel a sense of normalcy in these trying times, and advertising in content they’re engaging with can provide that while positioning brands for the new normal.

Feature Image Credit: Twitter

By Cartie r Stennis.

Sourced from AdAge

By Ted Rubin

It’s not just the brand, product or price, IT’S The EXPERIENCE…. especially now when Health at Safety are the top of everyone’s list!


Think about your favorite song or artist and consider why it’s your favorite. Do you remember when you first heard it? Does it transport you back to a certain time in your life? It may not be the ‘best’ song you’ve ever heard on a technical level, but it means something unique to you because of the way that you experienced it. If you happened to be listening to a different song frequently at that important time in your life, perhaps that one would be your favorite instead.

While we interact differently with art than we do with brands, there’s no doubt that our personal experience with a brand plays a more important role in where we shop than any name, logo, or marketing materials. That personal experience is often a reflection of the brand’s overall commitment to the customer. The consumer’s interactions with employees, trust in the company, quality of service, ability to get what they need, when they need it, and so many more factors shape a consumer’s experience with a brand. If the experience isn’t there, then the consumers won’t be either.

Unless you make the brand the experience

The most effective brands understand that the experience is what matters most to consumers, and that brand loyalty can evaporate instantly if the experience no longer delivers what the consumer is seeking. If you want the consumer to be loyal to your brand, then you need the brand to be synonymous with the experience that it represents. Making that happen takes work, because loyalty must be earned, and the process of earning loyalty never really stops.

You don’t need me to tell you that Amazon is the behemoth of online retail, or that it offers an experience that is hard for many brands to replicate. For most of us, the Amazon experience is very familiar and is constantly associated with the brand. The selection of products, prices, diverse services, convenience, marketplace and innovation of Amazon is the experience. If you’re a loyal Amazon customer, then that experience is likely what drew you in and keeps you coming back.

But what about small, mid-sized, or chain businesses that have nowhere near the clout of Amazon? Why do you buy your hardware, automotive supplies, food, or anything else you need at one local store instead of another? So often, it comes down to the quality of the people, and the small, meaningful connections that you build with the brand over time. If a smaller business remembers you, caters to your needs, makes you feel welcome, stocks your favorite items, and helps you find what you want in a quick, convenient way, then it’s creating an experience that earns your loyalty.

Never be satisfied with a substandard experience

In fact, don’t even be satisfied with an excellent experience. Always look for new ways to make your brand more valuable to consumers, and never take their loyalty for granted. The experience can always be improved, and there will always be competitors working hard to earn the loyalty of your customers. If you don’t adapt, they will.

Every consumer is a micro-influencer, because ‘everyone influences someone.’

Ultimately, the experience is what defines your brand, and not the other way around. Consumers are simply too savvy. They read reviews, compare their experiences with others, and they’re not afraid to speak up when the experience is substandard. This makes every consumer a micro-influencer, because ‘everyone influences someone.’

Warby Parker is a great example of experience defining the brand. Its product is not the best, BUT it is good enough… because the experience is outstanding in every way. It is not simply a company that ‘gets’ the OmniChannel experience, it exercises the concept of being OmniPresent… be where your customers are, and be prepared to deliver and communicate in the way they prefer. The store shelf is now wherever the consumer wants it to be.

The good news is that, when the experience is a consistently positive one, consumers are willing to speak up about that, too. Smart brands understand the influence that each consumer wields, and work to create an experience that causes consumers to use their influence in a positive way for the brand. A referral alone isn’t close to enough to build brand loyalty, but it does provide the opportunity to show one more consumer why your experience is worth their loyalty. #WeAreInThisTogether… Be Safe Everyone.

 

By Ted Rubin

Sourced from Medium

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The coronavirus pandemic continues to change the way we shop, work, socialize, travel and much more. It’s a fast-moving situation, but we’ve pulled together another of our regular, up-to-date snapshots of how brands are responding to the crisis. We hope this is informative and helpful – please circulate it to anybody you think might find it of use.

Manufacturing & Retail

Alibaba co-founder, billionaire Jack Ma, has promised to donate one million face masks and 500,000 testing kits to the US. The first shipment took off from Shanghai on Monday. He has already sent supplies to five other countries. “Drawing from my own country’s experience, speedy and accurate testing and adequate personal protective equipment for medical professionals are most effective in preventing the spread of the virus,” he said in a statement. “We hope that our donation can help Americans fight against the pandemic!” China is the world’s biggest supplier of face masks. As the coronavirus crisis in China ramped up in January, the country cut face mask exports to the rest of the world while buying up most of the world’s supply.

Several supermarkets including Stop & Shop in the US and the UK’s Iceland are opening earlier to serve older customers, and German-based retailer Aldi has just donated £250,000 to charity AgeUK.

UK-based greetings card and stationery retailer Paperchase is refusing to accept cash payments due to infection worries. If this policy spreads, New York City’s recent decision to ban cash-free stores may have to be rethought.

Luxury goods conglomerate LVMH has announced that its perfume and cosmetics production facilities will switch to making hand sanitizer, to be distributed free to French authorities and health organizations. The facilities usually make upmarket products for LVMH’s luxury brands such as Christian Dior and Givenchy.

Pernod Ricard’s Swedish vodka brand Absolut has offered to supply Swedish authorities with high-proof neutral alcohol for use in hand sanitizer.

Research firm Gartner has just released a report on brands’ reaction to the virus in China. Unsurprisingly, time spent online shot up by 20%, and brands reacted to that in a variety of ways.

  • Estée Lauder’s Weibo hashtag “We Can Win This Fight”, associated with the brand’s celebrity video messages, has been viewed more than 61 million times and has generated 328,000 discussions.
  • Louis Vuitton’s physical stores were closed in the lead-up to Valentine’s Day, so the brand launched an online pop-up store within the WeChat app, with live chat for pre-sale consultations and promotions shared via store associates online. Online sales were double those of Valentine’s Day 2019.
  • Activewear brands have been quick to promote in-home exercise content at a time when usage of the short video app Douyin (known as TikTok in the West) has seen usage as much as double. Nike began posting workouts to the platform, and its account has amassed 346,000 followers and more than 2 million likes.
  • Transparency proved important too; household cleaning brand Dettol took to its Weibo account to detail how it was handing the spike in demand.
  • Reactivity is also vital: When the dog of a beauty influencer began trending on Weibo after appearing in a livestream, beauty brand Perfect Diary used his sudden celebrity to launch a “Dog Eyeshadow” pallet; 16,000 pieces sold out in 10 seconds.

However, Gartner analyst Danielle Bailey warned that what is appropriate in China might not work as well in the West. “China has a much higher tolerance for sales messaging than the West, and a business-as-usual strategy approach is not advisable for Western markets,” she said. “Brand-building should be prioritized in this period. During a crisis, timing is critical. Determining the appropriate cadence and striking the right balance between commercial and branding messaging will be key.”

Amazon has announced that it is hiring an extra 100,000 employees in the US to cope with unprecedented demand for deliveries. It will also raise pay by $2 an hour. Earlier this month, Amazon relaxed its attendance policy for warehouse workers, allowing them to take unlimited unpaid time off through the month of March and launched a $25 million relief fund. The “Amazon Relief Fund” will allow employees to apply for grants that are equal to or up to two weeks of pay if they’re diagnosed with coronavirus.

Apple has closed all of its stores outside China until March 27. That’s more than 450 sites. However, employees will continue to be paid during the outage. Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia has already implemented store closures, and Starbucks are said to be considering it after a case of the virus at one of their sites in Seattle.

The UK government has put out an open call for businesses including Ford, Honda and Rolls-Royce to help produce medical ventilators. However, it is not immediately clear how a manufacturer of jet engines or cars could turn to producing specialist medical equipment, which international parts would be needed or what certification would be required. One option could be to adopt defense industry rules which can be used to order certain factories to follow a design to produce a required product quickly.

Mercedes has been hit by a wildcat strike at its Vitoria plant in Spain’s Basque Country. After a case of coronavirus was confirmed at the plant, the firm asked its 5,000 workers there to continue working. However, they refused, forcing the closure of the factory.

Technology

Chinese-owned computing company Lenovo pitched in quickly to help with the initial Wuhan outbreak, donating all of the IT equipment for the Wuhan Pneumonia Prevention and Control Headquarters, a temporary hospital constructed seemingly overnight. Lenovo is now working with Intel to provide the data analytics and computing needed by researchers from the Beijing Genomics Institute (one of the world’s largest genomics organizations) to crack the new coronavirus’s genome in a race for a cure. Knowing the disruption that was coming, the company early on strengthened its VPN capacity globally to support employees who would be working remotely.

Global cloud computing company SAP has responded to the crisis by opening up free access to its Ariba Discovery supply chain solution and Tripit, its travel itinerary manager. Other could-based connectivity providers such as Google and Microsoft are offering free trials of their enterprise collaboration tools.

Pinterest is redirecting anyone who searches coronavirus to a dedicated page in collaboration with the WHO, while Google has set up a separate search module for verified Coronavirus information. Apple, meanwhile, has changed the rules of its App Store to ensure that any virus-related apps can only come from approved health bodies.

Human resources software provider Workday is offering employees a bonus worth two weeks’ pay. Workday said it hopes the pay can “help alleviate some of the pressures” brought on by school closures and other changes, and said it would also create a relief fund “to help employees who may need additional support and have significant hardships that go above and beyond.” The company will also expand benefits like paid sick leave for employees infected with COVID-19 and Care.com coverage for back-up childcare. It’s also giving employees one year of access to the meditation app, Headspace.

Online commerce facilitator Shopify is offering its 5,000 employees a one-off $1,000 to set up a home workspace, while requiring them all to work remotely.

Healthcare & Fitness

The growing telehealth industry has, for obvious reasons, seen a huge bump in uptake. Doctor On Demand has reported a 15-20 per cent increase in virtual visits; Austin, Texas-based startup Wheel, which vets and trains clinicians for other telemedicine firms, has seen what it describes as “a remarkable increase” both in demand for visits and from doctors wanting to join the network.

Home fitness is booming, with some interesting results. Peloton, who have shifted from static bicycles and treadmills to all-round fitness training, is offering free 90-day trials of its app, which allows users access to yoga, strength training, stretching and other classes whether they own one of the company’s treadmills and bicycles or not. Nintendo’s Ring Fit Adventure game, which retails at $79.99, is selling on some sites, particularly in China, for up to $250, and is out of stock in many outlets. The fitness-training game contains physical controller accessories so can’t just be downloaded, and the manufacture of those has been hit by factory closures. 

Travel & Tourism

This sector has been particularly hard-hit, with airlines, travel companies and cruise lines among the worst affected by both the global pandemic’s travel bans and the stock price crash. Virgin Atlantic has just announced that it is to cut 80 per cent of flights by March 26th and is asking staff to take eight weeks’ unpaid leave during the next three months, which has sparked a social media backlash against its billionaire founder Richard Branson. The Virgin Group’s chairman has meanwhile asked the UK government to provide £7.5bn of state support to the aviation industry. British Airways and American Airlines also plan to cut capacity by around 75 per cent, and Irish-based budget airline Ryanair has cancelled 80 per cent of flights until May.

Many hotel chains are now offering travelers free cancellations – but as with many businesses, their policies are evolving on a minute-by-minute basis. Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott and Intercontinental, among others, are waiving cancellation fees for bookings up to the end of April. One snag, though – if the booking was made through a third party, as so many are, it may not be eligible for the program. Expedia has so far offered free cancellations or changes in certain circumstances but their call centres are reportedly overwhelmed.

European travel giant Tui is suspending the “vast majority” of its operations, including package holidays, cruises and hotel operations and applying for state aid.

Sports & Media

While Formula 1’s Australian Grand Prix was cancelled at the last minute, a hurriedly-arranged online event proved surprisingly successful. The All Star Esports Battle featured real-life F1 drivers, plus endurance, IndyCar and Formula E stars, battling against professional esports contestants. Ferrari and McLaren both have professional esports teams, with the former winning last year’s F1 esports championship. The event attracted more than half a million viewers – ­90 per cent more than any previous esports racing event.

Legendary and long-running motorcycle race the Isle of Man TT has also announced the cancellation of 2020’s event. This will be a major blow to the small island, which estimates that the event brings a £28m boost to the local economy. The event has been run since 1907.

The TV and film industry is starting to cancel filming, which won’t be good for workers in an industry which relies heavily on freelance talent. The BBC has just announced the postponement of several headline TV series, while Disney has paused its film productions of Batman and The Little Mermaid. More will undoubtedly follow.

Disney did bring a little cheer to families stuck at home, however, by releasing Frozen 2 three months ahead of schedule on its Disney Plus streaming channel. The move, according to new Disney CEO Bob Chapek, is about “surprising families with some fun and joy during this challenging period.”

Film studio NBCUniversal, hit hard by the lack of cinema audiences, has started streaming current movie releases via Apple, Sky, Comcast and Amazon, pricing them at a premium $19.99 for a 48-hour rental. The crisis “could serve as a catalyst for long-delayed change,” noted Variety’s Andrew Wallenstein. That includes the prospect of premium video on demand – that is, making movies available earlier to watch at home, for an elevated fee that would help offset lost theatrical revenues.

One of the more interesting media pivots of the last few years has been the global Time Out Group’s move from publishing increasingly unprofitable print city guides to running hip restaurant-based food markets, now operating five worldwide. Unfortunately, they’ve just announced that all five are to close for an unspecified period. Not good news for a brave operation.

19-year-old NBA star Zion Williamson has pledged to pay the salaries of all workers at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center arena for the next 30 days. “These are the folks who make our games possible, creating the perfect environment for our fans and everyone involved in the organization,” he wrote on Instagram. ”My mother has always set an example for me about being respectful for others and being grateful for what we have.” Other NBA players and team owners have also pledged amounts in the hundreds and thousands of dollars to support laid-off workers.

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Sourced from brandchannel