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Digital learnings from the US-of-A

29 August 2019 Article by Amelia Petrovich


In a world defined by short attention spans and even shorter delivery times, where instant gratification runs rampant, online is king, and a well-timed influencer post could make or break your brand, how do you stand out?

We sat down with Chemistry Account Manager (and proud South Carolinian) Maggie Nevers to find out how brands are doing digital marketing State-side – and what 300,000,0000 Americans could teach us Kiwis.

  1. Convenience sells

Maggie describes the U.S.A as a nation intent on chasing convenience of any kind, explaining that ease of service and a plethora of choice is what draws people online to engage with brands.

“Everyone’s busy and working hard, no one wants to go instore and deal with all the hassle, which is just the way the world’s working. The trend is now digital and brands need to have a digital presence otherwise you’ll become obsolete.

“Big powerhouses like Amazon doing things like overnight delivery, streaming services and Prime Day, they’ve helped lead that big push into digital. Think of what you have at your fingertips, writing, reviews, comments – you have a whole platform to compare and consume brands, and all these things that weren’t accessible even twenty years ago,” says Maggie.

  1. From online popularity to bricks-and-mortar success

The e-commerce space is a perfect breeding ground for online-only start-ups – in the States, small brands often sprout up online and generate huge amounts of excitement before ever hitting physical shelves.

“We’re starting to see smaller Instagram influencer-type brands popping up. Natural deodorant, teeth whitening strips, mattresses – all things that started out as online only,” says Maggie. “Brands are becoming popular with millennials and digital natives online first, and it works so well that big retailers are coming to them and saying ‘hey, can we sell your products instore?’”

“It’s really cool because traditionally if you wanted to get your products sold in a Walmart you’d have to go through a long, tedious process with all these guardrails. So to have a retailer actually come to you is massive.”

This is a phenomenon Kiwi online brands experience too. Allbirds kicked their business off with a New Zealand web address and a modest Instagram following, gaining enough popularity through those channels alone to open four stores in America and one in England before settling back home in Britomart this year.

  1. Go where the audience is

While the U.S Superbowl features a slew of primetime broadcast spots every year, Maggie worked with Snapple Group to sponsor College Football instead – a sport with a diverse audience base, including Instagram-loving millennials. Digital marketing was a no-brainer, enabling the brand to tap into existing audience bases online and hit them with targeted content.

“Most of it was online influencer advertising because a lot of what we did was recipe-based targeted or targeted at young people,” Maggie explains.

“We’d get influencers onboard with products, and the production was always high quality, they could have been a TV commercial, but we played them on Instagram, Facebook and pre-streaming because we knew our customers weren’t outside looking at billboards, they were viewing things on their cellphones.”

  1. Dip your toe in the water first

Let’s face it, not every brand can be as witty as Wendys or as prolific as Amazon, and nor should they be. But when it comes to gaining consumer trust, Maggie’s Stateside experience has proven time and time again that even a modest digital presence can work wonders.

“You don’t have to invest heaps in it but do dip your toes in the water and do enough to see how it works. There are a lot of tools available (to help test what works for you), Google Analytics or Instagram Insights are great for that. Do a test, A/B test it, or even do a research group and see what happens before you go investing a lot of money in it,” she suggests.

Doing it the Aotearoa way

“New Zealand might not be as fast-paced as America, but I love that, it leaves room for more impressive creative,” says Maggie.

“Kiwis have a better sense of humour, and they’re really receptive to marketing that’s a bit outside the box. The work here is cool whether it’s done by a 10 person shop or a 400 person shop – we just need to find a way to close the online media gap.