“How will we tell our brands’ stories?”

This story first appeared in the February 28, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

That was the theme behind the presentation by Marisa Thalberg, vice president for global digital marketing at the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., who highlighted key trends in digital storytelling.

Consumers are merchandisers. For Thalberg, this means that “ordinary people” are being transformed into “interesting and insightful brand merchandisers.” For instance, Rent the Runway allows customers to post photos of how they wear the dresses that they rent. “Consumers are merchandising the product in a way that the company can’t,” said Thalberg.

Frictionless buying is the evolution of Facebook chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg’s idea of frictionless sharing. This idea in social media combines a social platform with a shopping destination. One example is the collaboration between Chinese microblogging Web site Sina Weibo with Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao, in which shoppers can log in to Taobao using their Weibo accounts.

Micro and momentary experiences are growing. According to Thalberg, with tweets no more than 140 characters, Snapchat video messages no more than 10 seconds and Vine videos averaging 6 seconds, consumers’ smartphone and tablet app sessions are fairly quick. She noted these seconds are “behavioral moments” where fun, inspiring stories can be shared.

Organized randomness is possible. One example is mobile text messaging and photo/video sharing services such as WeChat. Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair product line, for example, features a live exchange where consumers share via the digital format their nighttime beauty tips. “It’s a new way of enabling storytelling,” Thalberg said.

On-demand entertainment moves to service. Lauder’s Clinique site offers live chat, face-to-face video consultations that consumers can access whenever they want.

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