BrainTrust Query: Oh SoLoMo!

Discussion
Sep 12, 2012

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the newmarketbuilders blog. The article first appeared on the Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) blog.

Social. Local. Mobile. Disruptions that retailers and brand marketers have had a heck of a hard time dealing with all at once, even as shoppers have enthusiastically embraced social media, geo-location and mobility in crafting their shopping and sharing experiences. The term "SoLoMo," is mash-up that addresses how shoppers are interacting with brands on all three levels simultaneously.

Recent developments promise the evolution of SoLoMo into an integrated consumer targeting trifecta for brand marketers.

Facebook’s release of "enhanced page post targeting" sounds benign, but the new set of features will offer unprecedented content targeting granularity to brand marketers. Before the update, posts could only be segmented by country and language. Now brands can target their posts to their fans and followers based on an expansive list of criteria, including relationship status, gender, workplace and education. Marketers can drill down further by matching the frequency and timing of updates to user behaviors.

Twitter has just announced that it will allow advertisers to more easily target messages in the Twitterverse based on user interests. Twitter will zero in on those interests by drawing from various criteria, including users’ followers and what they tweet about. The move is significant, given that interests are emerging as the socially-derived stats to track for brands and retailers. Point-of-sale data may show what consumers have bought in the past, but as Venky Harinarayan, co-founder of Walmart-acquired social analytics company Kosmix has noted, current interests are a far better indicator of what consumers will buy in the future. Beyond that, Twitter’s users disproportionately access the service on geo-location-enabled mobile devices, building a powerful social, local and mobile bridge for marketers’ content strategies.

Meanwhile, Polaris, the torqued-up search engine from @walmartlabs, promises to rescue searches from literalism by leveraging capabilities like synonym mining to arrive at shopper intent. A search for "denim," for example, would be sure to pull up a selection of jeans. Algorithms also factor in the number of "likes" a product has on Facebook, and soon, the number of pins it has on Pinterest and user ratings and reviews will be factored in as well. Polaris will power Walmart.com, along with the company’s mobile web and mobile apps, and the company claims that it has already seen a 10 to 15 percent post-Polaris increase in completed transactions.

Early in the game, the SoLoMo promise was to explode brand message deployment through new mediums. However, the latest developments demand an uncompromising commitment to both content quantity and quality. In order to take full advantage of the latest thin-sliced segmentation capabilities, brand marketers will be challenged to create higher volumes of fresh content targeted to specific affinity groups.

How should retailers and brands position themselves to capitalize on the latest advancements in SoLoMo? How may the evolution refine content strategy and overall brand messaging?

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13 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: Oh SoLoMo!"

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Tom Redd
Guest

There is no option for today’s retailers — it is SoMoLo or GoRa (Get out and Run away). Retailers brands need to be visible and “active” across the new channels that the SoMoLo options create. This means making their online shopping environments easily accessible via these platforms or extending the store pull into the space.

With this new space, the brand messaging will become more targeted to the specific channels most active users (age and lifestyle). If not, the target group will ignore the retailers that do not conform or go with SoMoLo…leaving the retailer with the decision to shift to SoMoLo or GoRa.

Matthew Keylock
Guest
Matthew Keylock
4 years 9 months ago

The missing element for me is “personalized.” I don’t mean personalized as in “we used the consumer’s name,” I mean that whatever is being communicated must be highly relevant and compelling based on detailed knowledge of the individual consumer needs. Broad messages or even segmented messages are no longer good enough.

I just can’t work out where to add the “Pe.” I think I like SoPeLoMo the best.

Ken Lonyai
BrainTrust

Before any brand delves too far into new technologies, there’s an important criteria: know thy customer. Many are good at that, but as more granular tools emerge, brands/stores just may find that they know less than they thought. The tools will keep getting better and more specific until customers push back, so the best long term positioning strategy is to create a strategy first, then slowly adopt technologies, SoLoMo or not, that fit the strategy, and refine and test and refine and analyze to be sure that goals are being achieved and hype ignored.

Max Goldberg
BrainTrust

There’s a lot of data out there. And there are many ways to slice it and dice it. Retailers and brands need to determine what is important and what is not. Based on those choices, they need to develop relevant content and make it available to their primary demographic targets. They also need to be open to true interaction with those demographic segments.

The object is to enter into a dialogue with core consumers; a dialogue that will build brand loyalty. Through trust and loyalty, brands and retailers can make consumers aware of new products that might be relevant and consumers can provide feedback.

It’s a continuous conversational loop for the betterment of both.

Joan Treistman
BrainTrust

I don’t think that retailers and brands should position themselves to capitalize on the latest advancements in SoLoMo. That’s a sure way to keep playing catch up. With technology changing and advancing so quickly marketers are best advised to understand where it’s been and anticipate where it’s going…in terms of how their particular (not all) customers and prospects will use SoLoMo.

To what extent are consumers’ wants and needs changing with SoLoMo? Are they buying what appears or what they can find through technology, whether it’s the store location, good values? It’s important to know the difference. Is search that is consumer driven more effective than “pull” through technology? If you can answer this question then you can build a strategy founded on a longer lasting component of human behavior regardless of how technology interacts with it. In fact, you will be well prepared to adapt to technological changes because you can maximize their strengths to foster your success.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

OK — first, Carol’s article might — and I’d underline might if I could figure out how to do that — have something to do with non-grocery. If it could be shown that social media matters to a brand (so far, no evidence), that showrooming is actually an issue (less than we might think according to Joel Rubinson), and whether mobile actually matters for any real percentage of our shopping trips (so far it doesn’t).

For grocery retailers, there have to be so many other things they can do better than to worry MUCH about SoLoMo. Go to any suburban or rural grocery store — nobody’s checking prices online — they all know that Walmart is mostly cheapest. Pay attention, but invest little energy.

Matt Schmitt
BrainTrust

The store is still the star. Shopper Marketing is a priority, and brands know that digital technologies including social, local and mobile applications need to incorporate “store back” strategies.

I would love to see more examples of execution where shoppers are informed and engaged at the store level, and then connected and engaged actively when they are away from the physical store location.

Ben Sprecher
Guest
Ben Sprecher
4 years 9 months ago
I take issue with one of the quotes in this article — that “current interests are a far better indicator [than POS data] of what consumers will buy in the future.” That may be true if you have access to consumer’s explicitly stated buying interests at a given moment (such as when a consumer goes to Walmart.com and types in “window fans,” even if they haven’t bought one in the past), but certainly isn’t if you just know their “Likes” and interests on Facebook. This observation misses the whole point of SoLoMo. The goal is not simply to intercept a consumer when they are looking for something, but to infer what they might be interested in when they *aren’t* specifically looking for it. With the power of today’s social-network-connected smartphones, you can determine that a 20-something foodie (with lots of Yelp reviews and food “Likes” on Facebook) is walking towards your gourmet food emporium, and you can reach them with an ad to come in. But, that ad becomes *much* more relevant when you know that the person buys extra virgin olive oil from you every month, and they haven’t bought it yet this month, so you tell them their… Read more »
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
Guest
John Boccuzzi, Jr.
4 years 9 months ago

These are exciting times and SoLoMo is another great example of retail evolution leveling the playing filed giving small brands a chance to either catch up or leap frog competitors. You can’t ignore SoLoMo or you risk being the brand being jumped.

All of that said, be realistic about your brand and how SoLoMo can best be used. Some questions that will help impact your approach. How many locations, frequency of purchase, customer demographics, price point, distribution locations, seasonality to name a few.

WARNING: Don’t lose site of your customer as you glare at the newest shiny object to impact retail.

Claire Pagán
Guest
Claire Pagán
4 years 9 months ago
I believe that SoLoMo is a trend that should be recognized by all retailers to truly capture their market. Where’s your phone? If you’re like most of the nation, it’s within arm’s length, and the best way to market to your consumers is via mobile. Why? Because we have it near us at all times! Foursquare has capitalized on this trend by offering “specials” when customers check in, as well as making them aware of other “specials” nearby. Retailers and brands can position themselves to capitalize on this trend by addressing the customer’s needs — people are looking to spend less, not more. If there are more discounts offered to entice a customer to shop at your location rather than another, more than likely they are going to do so. I don’t believe the discounts should be too great to take away from the brand itself, but just enough and often enough to make an impact. I don’t think you should become a “Macy’s” — they’re always creating discounts so when you receive an email about a “sale” you know the same “sale” will happen again in the week or so, so there’s no real impulse to buy. Ken Lonyai,… Read more »
Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

I’m not so sure we have a disruption here. Yes, there huge statistics when people are asked “have you ever” related to mobile, social, and shopping. But when you look at frequency and importance, I’m far more tempted to yawn.

For example, blogger Joel Rubison notes this study (link below) by Onavo Insights and IDC which shows that only “1-3% of iPhone users” do key price comparison using mobile as often as 2 times per month. That’s not an overwhelming trend.

The study is worth a read.

(To be clear, I have no connection to them — but I think it’s critical to get accurate insight in these areas. Far too many agencies or tech service providers are bullying retail clients into over-spending in these areas.)

Frank Beurskens
Guest
4 years 9 months ago

There seems implicit a logical assumption that more technology, more access, more data, and more granularity correlate with getting closer to the customer. I am reminded of a recent conversation with a radiologist friend who was complaining that the higher resolution available in scans today is resulting in a larger number of false positives; they are seeing “too much.” Expanded access to consumers through SoLoMo may result in turning off rather than turning on. Of equal importance to quality content is reinforcing the importance of brand authenticity and soul; is the brand relevant and meaningful to the consumer, or is it just about pounding more impressions? The savvy SoLoMo user usually knows the difference.

Bill Hanifin
BrainTrust

In discussions with a group of people this week, we were talking about Social Loyalty. We focused on defining the term more precisely and sought to identify its essence and true substance.

One suggestion was to speak about “contextual” loyalty as blending in select digital channels into a loyalty model allows the customer to play with a brand when they are ready, when they need or want something from that brand, and through the channel they select.

The developments cited in the discussion article will help marketers take a big step forward in understanding more about who is posting and will help to connect the dots between online interactions and purchase transactions.

That said, the power for brands will be to incorporate these tools into their own loyalty and digital customer strategies. Ownership of this data is important for the longer term.

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