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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Influencers' New Target on Social Media

A recent article in DigitalNewsDaily pointed out that a growing number of social media influencers are addressing their followers with reviews/promotions for products and services on YouTube.  No surprise here, but what was interesting to us was the report that two different genres of vlogs have developed: unboxing videos and haul videos.

Haul..., What?

Haul videos, as we have discussed several times in the past, are composed of an influencer (often a tween or teenage girl) going on a shopping spree and showing off all the products they purchased. According to a study from Shorr Packaging, haul videos are dominated by the clothing category, discount stores and beauty.

Unboxing videos, as the name suggests, record an influencer opening a manufacturer’s packaging to access a new product (often a surprise), then showing off the product, going through the directions, turning the product on, etc..  Shorr reports that with unboxing videos “the most popular category by far is toys, with 29% of the videos. That is followed by tech-driven categories like phones and accessories, computers and tablets, gaming consoles, and cameras”.

But Before There Were 'Out of the Box' Vlogs...

The article brought to mind work we did 20+ years ago for a large computer company.  In an effort to encourage our client to look at their marketing efforts from their customers’ point of view, we purchased one of their laptops online.  We then proceeded to open the package in front of a conference room full of the client’s senior executives.  Suffice it to say it was a new experience for all those folks who, of course, used their company’s computers but had never actually gone out to buy one nor had they had the experience of opening a box or attempting to plug in the product and boot it up. (They had internal IT support staff to handle all of that.  So, they were totally isolated from experiencing their product as their customers did!)

While they likely weren’t able to put themselves in the place of their average customer, there was a lot of surprise regarding how their product was packaged and plenty of questions about all the printed material that accompanied the product.  These questions included concerns about who was responsible for each element and the degree the separate components actually worked together.  In several cases, the materials failed to display a uniform brand identity.
Following that initial session, “out of box experiences” - with actual customers and prospects - became a standard component of the customer listening groups we conducted for that client.  'Customer listening groups' was our adaptation of the focus group format, modified to maximally illuminate a client’s understanding of the total customer experience they were delivering.

What's Our Point?

Customer retention and customer advocacy (positive word of mouth generation) are influenced by the total customer experience.  It’s all about the customer’s sensations and interaction with a product as representative of the brand. There are so many cues presented in the out-of-box experience; way the product is boxed; the graphic design; the quality of the paper/cardboard used; how instructions or promotional materials are printed; even the outer box and the mailing label are part of the experience.

Some companies excel in reinforcing their customer's purchase.  How about the last time you opened a product from Apple?  They get it.  They make things simple for the customer and show the customer that they have made a quality purchase.  Many upscale retailers for some time have wrapped and bagged shoppers' purchases in very substantial bags and boxes denoting the quality of their merchandise.  What it all means is that something as seemingly only functional as a shipping box or product container can be quite significant in the customer's total experience with a brand. 
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Measurement, Management, Optimization
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