The most common offense brands tend to make when it comes to integrated marketing is creating a difference between online and offline environments by distributing marketing plans into silos (think traditional vs. digital). For millennials, digital is life, not a part of it. The key here is that digital should not be an afterthought in brand planning, but rather the common thread that creates consistency for the brand.
As consumers are blurring the lines that separate online and offline environments, retail experiences should be specifically molded to accommodate a digital journey. By mapping probable user paths through a brand’s digital interfaces, marketers can begin to understand how customers’ lives interact and intertwine with the brand and plan accordingly.
Millennials view their digital networks as personal connections to their friends. As a result, brands must be wary of how they are tapping into personal networks. According to a recent report from Razorfish, three-quarters of U.S. millennials believe it is an invasion of privacy to be targeted by advertisers on mobile. However, the brands that connect through relevant and useful content will be granted access to those networks.
Overwhelmingly, millennials are more interested in learning how a brand can benefit them, rather than just how brands can benefit from them. According to the Razorfish report, 86 percent of consumers say they prefer brands to be useful rather than just interesting. As a result, it is vital that brands evolve into user-friendly services that aim to make lives better rather than just add to the digital advertising clutter.
Walgreens embraces seamless integration
Many brands are trying to catch up to the digital landscape, but some brands like Walgreens and Sephora are blazing the trails for seamless digital experiences. In an interview with eMarketer, Walgreens’ vice president of digital health, Adam Pellegrini, said, “(Our customer) experience should be seamless, and it should be cohesive. When a consumer is managing their medication, when they are getting virtual consult, virtual visits from a doctor, whether they are getting digital coaching with our new WebMD partnership…they should be able to have that digital health experience online, but just as easily walk into the store and continue the conversation.”
Sephora creates digital experiences
In March, Sephora took its commitment to keeping the client in mind with digital innovation to a new level and developed four new digital experiences for customers. By opening the brands first Innovation Lab, Sephora is investing in high tech yet practical digital solutions to advance customer experiences and enhance their customers’ lifestyles.
The four developments include Pocket Contour, Beacons and augmented reality displays to improve in-store customer experiences, and Flash, a subscription service similar to Amazon Prime. These first-of-their-kind digital opportunities for customers allow Sephora to be a beauty expert in the physical and digital space in one seamless shopping experience.
Cross channel integration is extremely important for brands aiming to succeeding in the digital age. However, a focus on digital OR traditional advertising is the wrong approach. We are living in a market where digital is quickly becoming traditional and marketing is seen through a holistic lens.