Alexa, Purchase Whole Foods

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In our last newsletter, we detailed the Retail Apocalypse. Perhaps we heralded this shopping doomsday too soon. With the latest news about store closures and business bankruptcy, it’s easy to give up on the classic brick-and-mortar retail place. As people seem to spend less on items and more on travel, according to Business Insider, retail could be on its way out eventually. However, if there’s one thing that is predictable about the market, it’s that it can sometimes be unpredictable. Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods alone proves that retail might not be facing an apocalypse so much as a digital makeover.

Last week, the online retailer site Amazon announced its $13.7 billion (including debt) purchase Whole Foods Markets, signaling a significant new step for the company outside online purchases. In addition to this purchase, Amazon has also announced a plan known as Prime Wardrobe, a system to allow customers to try on clothing and shoes before purchasing them, to expand its fashion retail as well. Many analysts note that these moves signal not a revitalization of classic retail stores but a reliance on them as well. After all, why would a company like Amazon spend billions on a system that is supposedly out of style? In fact, based on these announcements as well as Amazon’s continuing plan to break into pharmaceutical areas, retail stores still seem to have some value outside of online services.

Perhaps the classic brick-and-mortar stores just offer a sense of security, consistency, and personality. Offline sources have, for longer than Amazon, often gathered customer movements in real time to understand what products were preferable. Since people have always relied on going to stores for goods, the retail store remains a staple of the industry. Of course, regarding Whole Foods, food retail remains a reliable source of physical shopping with people going for food on average twice weekly. Though the places to find food or clothes have been static for quite a while, that’s not to say that the system cannot be improved upon for efficiency.

While retail stores might still have a place in the digital revolution, they may have to tackle a new set of standards to keep up with the competition. The latest purchase of Whole Foods offers Amazon a real-world base to test out online systems ranging from increased WiFi to visitor data profiling. With Amazon’s system of big data, Whole Foods might soon be able to access customer preferences with groceries and allow them to make recommendations for additional purchases in real time. This could also connect to Amazon’s home delivery system where grocery preferences can already be suggested for purchase before heading to store. In essence, this new method of purchase is not a preference of physical or digital stores but a combination of both.

Still, none of this guarantees that Amazon’s new method is sure to work or benefit the classic retail store. Indeed, some retail stores have seen drops in stocks following Amazon’s announcement. Nevertheless, this method proves there are still new horizons out there for the retail business. The future may be digital, but at least there is still a future at all for retail stores.  

Instagram Marketing

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5 Benefits Of Instagram Marketing

Instagram marketing is one of the few, easy to use, free marketing tools that every entrepreneur or business owner can utilize. With over 700 million users, Instagram has become one of the best and most popular photo sharing platforms, enabling you to engage with your followers by posting photographs, images, and even short videos.

When someone takes the time to edit and post a picture to Instagram, that photo means something. People don’t just upload any old selfie to Instagram; they make sure it has the perfect lighting and filter before posting. With all the effort users put into their posts and the time they take to appreciate the posts of others, it should be no surprise that Instagram marketing converts better than some traditional forms of advertising. Instagram photos are more thought-out, well made, and meant to make us crave the items in the picture.

Here are 5 benefits of marketing through Instagram for your business:

  1. Customer Base

You can connect with customers across all your different marketing channels. Within your Instagram Settings, you can enable sharing access to Facebook and Twitter so that whenever you post a photo or video to your Instagram page, it will automatically share across channels. This provides an easy way to update all your platforms simultaneously.  

  1. Increased Engagement

Traffic from Instagram photos is super-engaging. Instagram drives more engaged traffic than any other social media platform, including Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and Reddit. If a customer buys your product and then follows you on Instagram, they are more likely to see your products on a regular basis, which increases the chances of them purchasing from you again.

  1. Free Advertising

Instagram photos are user-generated content. When a group of friends goes out-to-eat to a restaurant, for example, they can take a picture of their deliciously plated food, give it a little edit and post it to Instagram. This is a way for them to keep their friends and family up-to-date on their lives, but for the restaurant… it’s free advertising. It’s advertising because the Instagram user is showcasing your food and tagging your restaurant’s location and page. The user’s followers can then click on the location and/or follow the restaurant’s Instagram page. This is one of the singularly most successful ways to grow relevant traffic and sales.

  1. Discover New Audiences

Instagram makes it easy to reach new audiences with a Discover tab and hashtags, which allow you to discover new photos, people, and businesses near you or based upon your activity. When someone includes a hashtag in a post on Instagram, a link is created, and you can view all other photos that have been shared using that hashtag.

  1. Build Trust And Personality

Instagram photos emit a more authentic feel when compared to stock images or classic brand advertisements because they are more aesthetically pleasing. They tend to be aspirational, giving us a look into the life we would like to live. Instagram marketing also builds trust when customers post a picture of your business or product; this influences a potential customer’s purchase decisions.  

If you’re a business owner wanting to reach new customers, you could benefit from using Instagram Marketing because it is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world.

Hello, Emily!

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Every other week, we seem to gain a new member of the Velocity Agency family! This time around, we are proud to welcome Emily Kranz, the newest Media Department Assistant. So, who is this Emily that we speak of? Well, we’re here to find out!

Emily grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and continues to live there today working with us! Of course, looking at her history, there’s no denying the city’s role in her life. She graduated from Mount Carmel Academy in 2009 and later went on to earn a degree in Film, Theater and Communication Arts from the University of New Orleans in 2013. Most recently, she worked as a concierge agent at The Woodhouse Day Spa where customer service played a big role in her life. Just goes to show that when it comes to some people, sometimes you just can’t take the New Orleans out of the girl.

Outside of the office when she isn’t making calls and cranking out numbers, Emily is also a major animal lover! With her love of New Orleans and all creatures on four legs with fur, it sounds like she’s going to fit right in here at Velocity Agency.

The Retail Apocalypse and How Your Store Can Survive It

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For some unfortunate retail brands, the apocalypse is already here: the retail apocalypse. As online shopping becomes more and more popular, brick-and-mortar shops are starting to close their doors, creating a rippling effect across major company icons. Sears and JCPenny alone have closed more than 100 stores each while businesses like The Limited have shut down completely. According to real-estate research firm Green Street Advisors, about one-third of all shopping malls could be at risk of shutting down from these recent closures. Is this the fate of all store brands?

According to some studies, not exactly. Like all trends, the “retail apocalypse” presents different opportunities for brands to reach out to a new audience. Though the shutting down of hundreds of stores hints at an end for traditional stores, that doesn’t necessarily spell out the end for retail as a whole. Arguably, Americans have been spending less money in general on physical items and more on restaurants and travel, but clothes and other retail remain a significant part of the sales cycle. Recent studies depict retail sales growing 4.1% from the previous year, so the need for fashionable clothes has certainly not decreased. Still, with the threat of stores shutting down entirely, new ideas should be used in finding a bigger audience.

Macy’s, one of the largest retail brands, has already begun revamping its marketing strategy considering potential shutdowns. One of its newest changes in promotion includes a focus on more centralized marketing as opposed to its previously national advertising. Rather than sporadic 30-second TV spots, the retail brand plans to introduce 15-second spots to local stations for annual tentpole events based on the seasons. Another strategy for maintaining a loyal customer brand is a new policy regarding credit card users to ease the purchasing process for more than one payment type. These new strategies hope to reach out to a young audience as well as maintain older customers, but only time can tell whether they will be successful. Of course, one of the biggest and best promotional ideas comes from one of the most underestimated resources in retail: The Internet.

Yes, while online shopping has been a significant rival to the classic real-life store presence, online promotion has been one of the most positive efforts towards reaching a new audience. Following the rise in online interaction, many store brands have embraced digital marketing by introducing a pick-up-in-store service which allows customers to search and purchase online and find their product at a physical store. Putting effort into online marketing itself can offer a new setting to reach out to younger consumers who are spending more and more time on the computer. No matter whether the Internet serves as an asset or an obstacle in the classic brick-and-mortar store, there is no denying that online services are here to stay, and there is no use in ignoring it.

There’s no telling how far the retail apocalypse will go or whether one-third of shopping malls will suffer in the meantime, but one thing that is certain is change. As technology grows, new traditions will follow, but that only opens more opportunities for those to change as well. That’s one of the thrills of working in retail.

Let’s Talk About Layla!

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Who’s ready to meet another proud employee of Velocity Agency? I know we always are! Today we give the spotlight to Layla Sutton, our newest addition to the social media department!

Layla hails from a small town in Snow Hill, North Carolina, but her love of music brought her to New Orleans. Upon her first trip to New Orleans, she fell in love with the food, culture and most importantly the vibrant musical climate. Growing up doing music in church, she transitioned to being on her high school drumline and continued her passion for music education at East Carolina University. In that time, she was always writing in journals. She took up blogging and social media when Myspace made its debut (remember that?).

Since she moved to New Orleans almost three years ago, things changed very fast. Layla started working part time for her father with his media and marketing business that he and his wife had created. Layla began to notice that her love for working with people combined with taking loads of psychology and education classes in college made her a natural at working in marketing. She’s always liked monitoring people’s behaviors, and now she’s doing it through a computer screen. She has previously taught preschool music at St. George’s Episcopal School as well as music at the Louisiana Academy of Performing Arts where she still teaches percussion lessons now in the afternoons and on the weekends.

Outside the office, she is also the lead singer for the New Orleans Ragweeds, the percussionist and vocalist for Sunshine Brass Band, drum set for the Tiny Furniture Ensemble, and has played with the New Orleans Volunteer Orchestra. When she’s not working, she’s also checking out new brunch spots, watching live music, laying by a body of water somewhere, and playing with her blue heeler puppy named Brother. Sounds like a great new addition to the team!

Moving Towards Virtual Reality: How Did We Get Here?

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Virtual Reality is no longer just a plot for a movie about the future, nor is it just limited to video gamers. Goldman-Sachs stated, “We see qualities in VR/AR technology that can take this from nice use case to a device as ubiquitous as the smartphone.” Marketing and media experts say VR advertising could completely change the marketing game within the next two years.

71% of consumers think a brand that uses virtual reality is forward thinking. VR is predicted to impact nearly every industry, but in particular, education, travel, journalism, health care, architecture, and marketing. Just as businesses had to make their web presence responsive for mobile, they will soon have to become accessible with VR. Typically, many brands will rush to utilize new technology and techniques before they understand the platform. It is imperative to look first at what other brands are currently doing with virtual reality.

TOMS, a shoe brand that rose to fame in 2006 by also being a charity to underprivileged kids, has already begun utilizing VR. TOMS takes their users to a remote village in Peru where they show the consumers how their TOMS purchase helps children in need. The user not only knows that each time they buy a pair of TOMS that it another pair goes to a kid in need, but also they experience that exchange themselves and, suddenly, it becomes real.

Mercedes has quickly risen to the occasion as well and showed off it’s latest SL model with a virtual drive on the Pacific Coast Highway in California. With the tool of virtual reality, users were able to look around the interior of the car, peer up through the sunroof, and watch as the car navigated through the road. This virtual experience also explored the convertible mode, where the user can see the Pacific Ocean. This experience is the closest consumers can get to test drive a car without actually test driving it.

 

While some claim the world may not be ready for VR technology, videos utilizing the tech have already racked up millions of views. A VR viewer that can attach to any phone called Google Cardboard has sold millions of units and has millions of clicks on its related videos. Forward thinking companies will recognize the appeal of VR advertising. VR immerses you in a virtual world from all angles, naturally, this would make VR advertising the most immersive form of marketing. Imagine an advertisement that is more than a static video, but an immersive world designed for the viewer to explore as they familiarize themselves with your brand. This is the world Velocity Agency is helping create!

Marketing experts are monitoring what they think will be highly useful in the marketing and media world. Imagine that you are in the market to find a hairstylist, and suddenly Virtual Reality could let you tour different salons before you make your decision. This is just one instance of how VR will help consumers make educated purchases. The question is not when will VR be widely used, but is your brand ready?

Click here to watch Velocity’s VR videos!

Heineken vs. Pepsi: How to Leverage Today’s Sociopolitical Climate

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Today’s sociopolitical climate makes it essential for companies to tread lightly when it comes to advertisement. By now, you’ve probably heard all about the latest Pepsi ad. Many argue that any publicity, whether negative or positive, is good publicity. Pepsi has been swept up in controversy in connection with an ad that depicted Kendall Jenner solving the tension between protesters and police with a can of soda and a smile. This controversial ad did not go over well with its audience and was pulled almost immediately after it aired. However, Pepsi’s mentions on social media were up more than 7,000% the day it debuted. In total, Pepsi was brought up more than 1 million times across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

It’s difficult to tell if Pepsi’s purpose in making the ad was to stir up controversy. Despite the ad being called a tone-deaf take on “protest as brunch,” as well as “a trivialization of civil rights activism in America,” Pepsi may be onto something. Controversy is no stranger to consumer marketing today, and the statistics show that maybe this wasn’t the big PR blunder that it was made out to be: a large percentage of minorities — namely Latinos and African-Americans — viewed Pepsi more favorably after watching the ad. A whopping 75% of Latinos said the ad made them more favorable to the soda brand, while 51% of African-Americans said the same. Only 41% of whites said the ad made them more favorable toward Pepsi.

If social media in 2017 has shown us anything, it’s that no matter how bad the PR move, there will be another brand waiting to steal the spotlight shortly thereafter. Competing companies will sit back and watch as companies like Pepsi generate outrage online, all while plotting their marketing move to heal the wounds.

Directly following the Pepsi ad fiasco, Heineken stepped up to the plate. Heineken decided to launch a much longer video campaign that would show completely different people settling their differences over a crisp and refreshing beer. Consumers received this ad especially well after the Pepsi fluke. Heineken’s ad is an example of how companies turn another company’s PR trash into their treasure by learning from consumers. Social media platforms have been miracle workers in this way, they give valuable insight into consumer behavior, thoughts, and values.  Companies now have an inside look at what their audience wants, and when they make a mistake, they will never hear the end of it.

Here at Velocity, we are always identifying and examining what resonates with our audiences. 55% of local online consumers across 60 countries say that they are willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact. Welcome to 2017, where beer is sold by pulling your heartstrings and say goodbye to the ads of the 80’s, where babes in bikinis were the secret weapon of selling.

 

Building Brand Loyalty

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Creating and retaining a loyal customer base is essential for any business. A study conducted by Facebook shows that more than 3 in 4 adults in the US return to the same brands over and over again. Marketers commonly define brand loyalty as a pattern of consumer behavior where consumers become committed to brands and make repeat purchases from the same brand rather than competing ones. In this case, the consumer believes that the brand meets their expectations and identifies with the consumer on a personal level:

Some famous examples of brand loyalty include:

  • Mac vs. PC
  • McDonald’s vs. Burger King
  • Coke vs. Pepsi
  • iPhone vs. Android

It goes without being said that consumers must be convinced to be brand loyal. That is, a significant amount of effort must be put towards creating a loyal consumer relationship. So, how can you drive brand loyalty? The five drivers are commonly defined as awareness, relevant differentiation, perceived value, accessibility, and emotional connection. Here are some easy ways to garner brand loyalty:

Further your brand’s accessibility by using technology –

In what ways can your company utilize digital technology to make an impact on your customers’ lives? Perhaps you can develop an app that will allow your customers to access your services more quickly. The goal is to create a symbiotic relationship between you and your customers.

Use real people from your organization to create an emotional connection –

Leverage executives with the organization. The executives in the company are aligned with the brand. They help put a personal face to the brand and give your customers a person with whom they can relate. The core values of a company are important to consumers. You develop trust by re-emphasizing the company’s mission statement.

By learning as much about your brand as possible, we’re able to gain valuable insight into how your customers interact with both you and your competitors. Then, we will work towards building a meaningful relationship between you and your customers. Start a conversion with Velocity Agency today, and we’ll start forging those integral relationships.

Identifying Your Employer Brand

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Branding is quite arguably the most important aspect of any business, no matter how large or small. A company’s brand goes well beyond just a logo and a slogan. A brand is a promise you make to your customer. With an understanding of your brand, your customer will know what to expect when it comes to interacting with your business or purchasing products and services. Your brand is who you are, who you want to be and what you are perceived to be. That perception is from the eyes of your customers. But what does your brand look like from the viewpoint of potential employees? If you have never thought about your employer brand, now is the time.

A solid employer brand will ensure that candidates are a perfect fit with the organization. Similarly, your employer brand is an opportunity to allow potential applicants who don’t fit your organization’s culture to opt out. An employer brand brings you quality candidates quicker. The truth is that you can’t afford NOT to have a well-defined employer brand. A report by CareerBuilder states that businesses lose more than $14,000 for each position that remains vacant for three months or more. A study conducted by recruitment firm Hudson RPO reveals that firms with strong employer brands saw revenues increase by 20% while companies with weak employer brands grew by only 8%.

At Velocity Agency, we are experts in performing audits of organizational reputation. We stay on top of market trends, and we can identify how potential talent views your brand. We will design a unique brand strategy based on who you wish to recruit and what that market desires from an employer. Your employer brand can be showcased through website design, social media, events, and more.

Don’t think you have an employer brand? Well, you do! And Velocity Agency is here to help you identify it. When done right, your employer brand is an invaluable asset to your organization. We can’t wait to help you discover another facet of your organization’s identity and to help you find the right talent!

What Internet Privacy Rollbacks Means For Marketers

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Online advertising is an $83 billion market – meaning that digital marketing is imperative. Recently, Congress made a decision that is bound to disrupt the internet marketing world. Congress voted to put the brakes on Internet privacy rules set in place by the Obama Administration. The online privacy protections that were set into motion in October 2016 are regarded as revolutionary legislation. And now, the Trump Administration is being given the option to retract these protections. This event presents marketers with a tremendous opportunity, but should they capitalize on it? The doors are opening for marketers (but, really, they are remaining open) to build upon their treasure trove of consumer data.

In actuality, the legislation protecting Internet privacy had not yet gone into effect. The sudden uproar is spurred by the potential for FCC Internet privacy rollback. Cable firms and wireless providers can potentially exploit your browsing history, shopping habits, your location and other information harvested from your online activity. With all of this information on a specific person, internet service providers (ISPs) can sell highly targeted ads for a hefty price. ISPs could compete with Google and Facebook in the $83 billion online advertising market. Inherently, ISPs have very detailed information on consumers and a better understanding of who is using what device in the home. Fewer privacy restrictions mean internet service providers can look more closely at behavior that marketers eagerly want details on, like mobile behavior and app usage.

Is there a good side to privacy protections being put on the chopping block? ISPs could leverage privacy and use it as a selling point. It’s a given that consumers would be concerned about their data leaking. Data leakage could be a threat to a brand’s image and consumer loyalty. Therefore, offering heightened security could become an attractive feature for companies to advertise. FCC’s broadband privacy protections would have prevented Internet service providers from selling personal data like web browsing history without prior consent. However, the rule had not yet gone into effect. It can be argued that nothing has, or will, change. Sales of personal data is a much-feared but highly unlikely scenario.