Social Media Week: Keeping Up with the Agile Consumer

On Tuesday, February 19, 2013, OLC attended Social Media Week: Keeping Up with the Agile Consumer hosted by Offerpop and held at the Advertising & Marketing Hub at JWT.

The CMO and co-founder of Offerpop, Mark Cooper started with defining an agile consumer. "With the rise of agile development and agile marketing, we had to adapt to changes in technology and changes in forces—the consumers. This generation of consumers doesn’t care about brand compared to previous generations," Cooper said. "People are more likely to trust an individual than a CEO and brand loyalty has dropped 20 percent," he said. To Cooper, retention matters as much as reach. "Consumers," he said, "are doing their research." Cooper explained that over 63 percent of social media users consult consumer ratings and 62 percent rely on consumer reviews. "Over 500 million impressions were created by consumers through social in one year," he said. "The consumers know you and your competitors. They look for new brands and new products all the time; and for you to keep up, you need to be agile."

Cooper said that approximately 1.43 billion people use social networks and an averaged 22 percent of time is spent on social networks. About 50 percent of consumers are influenced by social when making purchase decisions and consumers rely on people they trust. "They are now mobile-minded," he said. An estimated 1.2 billion smartphones and tablets are to be sold in 2013. "The most used app in smartphones and tablets," Cooper said, "is social networking." To conclude his presentation, Cooper defined agile consumer as consumers that are able to get information about anything anywhere at anytime.

Wendell Lansford, CEO and co-founder of Offerpop moderated "Defining Today's Buyer" featuring Brittany Darwell, Lead Writer of Inside Facebook; David Teicher, Associate Editor at AdAge; Jacob Silverman, Contributor to the New York Times and Slate magazine; and Pratik Patel, Managing Director and Chief Digital Strategist at Gridley & Co.

Lansford asked the panelists if they could define the agile consumer. David Teicher tackled the question first. "Agile consumers," Teicher began, "from what I see, agile consumers, I think, are millennials and GenY. They were immediately assumed to be thrifty—not spending too much money, but how do you interpret that behavior? There are lots of data analytics companies that look at this. On the social side, data analytics has a lot of potential. We are seeing influences from people you don't know—Pinterest, for example, it catalogs taste and when it aligns with your own, you feel connected to them and be influenced by them even when you don't know them in real life."

"I think that this generation is the agile consumer," Brittany Darwell said. "They're not thrifty, but they have the opportunity to be thrifty—they can research to find the right product for them. Connection is more important, but a surge in connection to niche products happens as a result."

Jacob Silverman added, "There is the decline of brand loyalty, but there is an increase to product loyalty. It's about the actual experience they're getting. I think of it as attachment to one product."

Lansford asked how marketers respond to consumers. Pratik Patel said, "Lots of big businesses are built to prohibit agility. Limited availability and options are frequent in business. It's a serious issue now. It's interesting that as time goes on—it would be interesting to see how businesses adapt to these consumers. On the marketing side, there's a frantic effort to try to connect with consumers. There's a bit of confusion in companies to buy other companies or hire people to try to find solutions, but I think it's very siloed."

"What about agile consumers that are resistant to marketing?" Lansford asked. "In some sense, some are resistant to marketing," Silverman said. "Certainly influenced by 1990s GenX slacker trends, but consumers are accepting of being marketed to as long as they know what the terms are. Offering more information to consumers may maked them feel more connected to companies. As consumers become more savvy about the buying side and businesses become more savvy about the consumer side, there will be conflict."

"They're just more aware," Darwell said. "I think it's also that everyone is building a brand. I think there are people that are aware of companies that are putting on a faux personality, just as they are aware of people putting on façades."

Lansford asked Darwell to talk a little about Facebook and marketers. "Facebook and marketers," Darwell said, "have had a roller coaster relationship. Facebook is great with viral marketing, but at the same time, it cuts channels quickly when it's abused. Facebook offers authentic communication and engagement with people. In the end, by having good products and good vision, there's nothing that Facebook can do to hurt you."

"Given their sheer size," Silverman said, "Facebook will always be needed. They're like a walled garden."

Teicher said that it's a matter of figuring out what users want to do with the platform. "Some brands are more conducive to ecommerce, others are more suited to building content," he said.

Mark Cooper returned to the stage to moderate "Rising to the Challenge" featuring Melanie Kwong, Community Manager at Saks Fifth Avenue; Katie Ellis, Brand Marketing Associate at Rent The Runway; and Robyn Yoslow, Head of Digital & Lifestyle & Influencer Marketing at Nokia.

Cooper asked Katie Ellis how Rent The Runway has dealt with agile consumer and marketing. "Our consumers have been extremely agile in purchasing," Katie Ellis said. "We sat a lot of organic growth—reviews and photos of dresses that consumers rented from Rent The Runway. We tried to bring that behavior on to the Rent The Runway platform and we launched photo reviews. When we did, we had over 35 percent of users organically upload photos. In response, we launched Our Runway which pulls user-generated content, which is about three years worth—that's 12,000 photos!"

"Consumers need to know as much as they can about the product," Ellis continued. "Customer photo reviews are really helpful. We analyzed data and found out that 200 percent of people who view user generated photos are more likely to purchase than when viewing models in the photos."

"We gave our $500 a day to people who took photos of their shoes," Melanie Kwong said. "We used an Instagram campaign, which is a really great way to introduce your brand. Saks has over 40 brick and mortar stores and an online store, but it's really difficult to track. For one of our contests, we put signs up around stores and placed a live feed on walls so that when users would take a photo of their shoe and send it to us, it would appear on the wall in real-time. We installed Wi-Fi in stores and iPads to further engage the agile consumer. As for user-generated content, there needs to be a balance."

"Are you seeing a shift?" Cooper asked Kwong. "Saks has bee around for a while and as they're trying to make their brand generational, they're also trying to get aspirational users interested in the brand." Kwong also said that consumers are more likely to attend the brand's store when brands engage them on social platforms because it feels as if the brand has "taken notice" of the consumer.

"Nokia is an OEM [Original Equipment Manufacturer]," Robyn Yoslow said. "We're doing partnering with social, digital and bridging your reach and driving a messaging strategy. In a media point of view, it's distinguishing awareness down to conversion. If you take a step back, there's the consumer (user) and the shopper. The shopper researches the product, and that product is the extension of the brand."

Mark Huerta, Director of Product Marketing at Offerpop took the stage to moderate a conversation between Shawn Hollenbach, Digital Marketing Manager at Logo TV and Mae Karwowski, Social Media Manager at Gilt City for "Sharing Success."

"How do you get brand advocates to become engaged?" Mark Huerta asked. "You give them the tools to be superfans," Shawn Hollenbach said. "Use communities to engage the passionate fans and you will get a lot of user-generated content."

"Engage users by asking questions," Mae Karwowski said. "Ask them why this and not this or 'Where is the best place to stand?' because people are pretty passionate about certain things. Also use media channels to respond to users and engage with the brand. Regarding agile consumers, you want to be where they are already."