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64% OF SHOPPERS SAID EXPERIENCES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN PRODUCTS.

By | Blog

Essential Retail’s author Alastair Lockhart provides an interesting insight and research into the customer’s experiences perception over online buying. 64% said experiences are more important to them than products – rising to 73% for 18-34 year olds.

Currently online sales account for one-fifth of total retail sales and the evidence suggests the proportion will grow further. But with a growing appetite among shoppers for experiences and a number of online retailers exploring physical spaces, could there be light at the end of the tunnel for high streets?

While online retail is convenient, and is becoming more convenient as delivery times shorten, it struggles to deliver the level of experience stores can. Some 85% of shoppers tell us that online can never create the experience of physical shops. What’s more, shopper demand for experiences is growing rapidly.

It’s perhaps not surprising therefore that a number of online retailers are exploring physical spaces, from pop-up shops to more permanent stores

Click here to read more

RESTAURANTS: MUSIC AFFECTS THE TASTE OF FOOD

By | Blog

The Telegraph’s article looks at the affects of music and the taste of food within the hospitality industry following Nigella Lawson declaring that she is “allergic to all noise”.

According to a new study by the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford (co-authored by Charles Spence, an expert in sensory science and the author of Gastrophysics: The New Science of Eating), auditory stimuli can impact both our experience and our consumer behaviour more than we realise (more on which later).

And there’s no doubt that the UK’s restaurants are noisy. According to charity Action on Hearing Loss, 79 per cent of people – both with and without hearing loss – have experienced difficulty holding a conversation while eating out, thus sabotaging the social aspect of the occasion.

According to Professor Charles Spence, there’s a line for restaurateurs to tread – since sales go up as noise volume increases. This is because it causes excitement, encouraging people to spend, drink and consume more (however, in extremes this can be unconsciously perceived as danger, making us feel anxious or threatened and leading us into fight or flight mode). Read more, click here.

Immedia was awarded ‘European Supplier of the Year’ for its services to international restaurant chain Subway. Click here to read more. 

Call us today to discuss how we can help you provide an entertaining and engaging customer experience in your restaurant brand.

FORBES: HOW BANKS CAN TURN MILLENNIALS INTO LIFELONG CUSTOMERS

By | Blog

FORBES ARTICLE By Steve Carlin

Smart banks know that the future generation of growth depends on a very specific group of consumers – Millennials.

As a group, Millennials are lost at sea when it comes to managing their personal finances, with 34 percent reporting they are unsatisfied with their current financial situation, and over 60 percent burdened by debt.

Unfortunately, while Millennials need the support of financial institutions and leaders, this generation has traditionally shown disdain for big banks, and a skepticism about financial wellness in general. Only 27 percent of Millennials have sought professional financial advice in the last five years, and four of the leading banks were ranked by Millennials as a least loved brand.

But while Millennials may have little interest in personal banking today, as this audience grows and matures, so will their financial needs. For example, 90 percent of Millennials expect to be impacted by a major financial event within the next 36 months – such as taking on a student loan, or buying a home or car. Only 8 percent believe they have the high levels of financial literacy needed to deal with these life events.

As Millennials experience increased levels of financial complexity, they will need somewhere to turn, giving banks an opportunity to shine – or get left behind, as new competitors enter the space in droves.

Can Banks Overcome Negative Millennial Attitudes To Drive Growth?It’s not surprising that Millennials have shown skepticism toward the banks. In addition to coming of age during the 2008 financial crisis, Millennials have long been ignored by traditional bank marketing and product strategies. As of 2017, 34% of financial marketing teams allocated over 50% of their media budgets to traditional media, and as recently as 2018, bank marketers ranked “attracting a younger audience” ninth on their priorities list.

Because banks fail to cater to the Millennial audience with personalized, differentiated messaging (and refuse to engage through their preferred channels) it’s no wonder that brand loyalty is low – with 53 percent of Millennials believing their bank doesn’t offer anything different than other banks.

In spite of the current state of affairs, there is opportunity for banks who are willing to invest in products, services, and marketing channels to charm and engage their Millennial audiences. Here are some tips for success.

Tip #1: Get Mobile
Millennials and Gen Z customers expect things to be fast, easy and self-service oriented. They want to be able to do things when and where they want to do it. This means investments in mobile.

Today, according to Salesforce’s 2017 Connected Banking Customer Report, “Nearly one-third of Millennials with a checking or savings account stated that they leverage their bank’s mobile app for most routine transactions such as deposits and transfers, compared to just 17 percent of Gen-Xers and six percent of Baby Boomers.” Millennials are accessing their financial information via mobile device eight and a half times more often than other generations; a trend that is only expected to grow with time.

Tip #2: Embrace Big Tech
In addition to embracing mobile solutions, banks must keep an eye out on the competitive landscape, as disruptors are emerging by the day. In order to compete, banks must launch more sophisticated personalization strategies that enable more targeted marketing and personalized experiences, which means investments in AI and data science.

Additionally, banks must take a more social approach to product development, that focuses on easy access to money, fluid exchange, and convenient payments. Millennials are less worried about risk, less afraid of technology, and more focused on convenience than any other generation. It’s no wonder this audience is the most likely to embrace expense-sharing – with FICO reporting that 52 percent of people aged 18–34 are already using or considering non-traditional payment company like Venmo, versus 27 percent of people aged 50 years or older.

Tip #3: Reinvent The Branch
There’s no denying Millennials love experiences. The success of the engineered-for-Instagram Candy Museum is a testament to that.

Millennials want to make memories in everything they do – even if it’s just a trip to the bank. In order to make banking fun, banks must gamify the experience, and offer Millennial-appropriate rewards – like hard-to-get concert tickets – to customers that open a new account.

When it comes to creating an experience, and an environment where Millennials will spend time and money, banks aren’t just competing with other banks – they are competing with retailers like Sephora and Apple too. So the branch experience must be memorable, personal, and strong enough to get people off the couch, and into the branch.

This is one reason banks like HSBC are investing in customer engagement solutions like Pepper, the humanoid robot that offers visitors a charming, charismatic, and fast alternative to waiting in line for a teller. Pepper can help customers address basic needs, without having to wait for staff support, and can free up staff to focus on better customer experiences. Not only has Pepper helped HSBC improve employee morale, but within the first five months of adopting Pepper, HSBC saw YoY growth of 44 percent.

Tip #4. Become A Trusted Advisor
While banks must invest in mobile, personalization, and other customer-friendly technologies to be at parity with the emerging tech players, in order to really differentiate banks need to double-down on their strengths.

Banks have always been a place where consumers can go to make big life decisions – about managing a portfolio, taking out a loan, and becoming more financially secure. But many Millennials don’t see banks that way.

If banks want to be seen as the place that Millennials can come to build financial stability and security, banks must find more effective ways to promote personalized products and services, and the branch interactive, educational, and engaging. By doing this, banks will have more opportunities to build relationships with Millennials, and do what they do best – provide financial advice.

There is Still Time To Win Over Millennials
While there are a lot of roadblocks for banks in the race to win Millennials, there is also a lot of opportunity. Because Millennials have been under served by big banks, they haven’t committed their loyalties to one bank or another. This gives banks that focus their attention on Millennials to build high value, long term relationships with them, ensuring a future of mutual success.

Discover how Immedia have help Nationwide and HSBC. Contact us today.

HSBC – ‘SOUND IDENTITY IS POWERFUL’

By | Blog

“A sound identity plays to a customer sense powerfully”
Andrea Newman, global head of brand at HSBC

When HSBC began a global refresh of its brand identity last year, the bank’s well-known red and white hexagon was the most obvious aspect, but no less important has been the development of a sound identity for the first time, says a top executive.

Writing in the June issue of Admap (topic: Audio: Prospering in the ever-present medium), Andrea Newman, global head of brand at HSBC, stresses the importance of having “a brand identity and experience that can work across any channel a customer may choose”.

And with many new platforms not having screens, “a sound identity plays to a customer sense powerfully”.

“From a business perspective,” she said, “if we didn’t have one, we risked further fragmenting our brand, meaning, distinctiveness, and – ultimately – our appearance in the mind of a customer.”

In Using sound to create a 360-degree brand identity, Newman charts the evolution of the brand’s thinking, from its own unsuccessful attempts to come up with something that would work in any context, from an ATM to large-scale sponsorship event, to its eventual recruitment of electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre to deliver an audio representation of the HSBC brand promise, “Together we thrive”.

From that initial melody and hook “Jean-Michel went on to deliver seven themes [which] cater for different scenarios when a customer interacts with us – whether on hold via telephone banking, at a stadium for the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament, a Private Banking forum or in a branch,” she elaborates.

“We have essentially created a toolkit for the organisation so that when we approach sound in any given experience, there is one unique, globally consistent source material to ease fragmentation and build a consistent, signature brand experience.”

Newman is excited about how this can take the bank in some new directions, not least in catering to the visually impaired as sound “can help punctuate a user experience online or offline”

Immedia are the proud partners of HSBC LIVE, providing the first LIVE radio station, with on-brand music and sound of voice. Call our team of specialists today to discover how we can increase your brands engagement and customer experience.

Source WARC

THE ERA OF BRANDED MUSIC IS JUST THE BEGINNING

By | Blog, News

The era of branded music is just beginning as marketers are beginning to see music as an additional pathway of communication and expression of their own brand in order to reach consumers.

Marketing Dive online have created a a great article outlining the dos and don’ts of musical branding campaigns.

Major brands like Oreo and Lay’s have tapped mainstream musicians to craft original songs, but not all the efforts are chart toppers.

For years, analysts have eulogized the jingle, those musical catchphrases that underpinned marketers’ efforts for decades. But while the jingle might be considered dead, the era of branded music is just beginning, as advertisers increasingly tap mainstream artists — not just to pop open a can of Pepsi like Britney Spears — but to craft full-length original songs for their campaigns, such as Migos for Mountain Dew or Kelly Rowland for Dove.

“It’s more critical than ever that brands consider their audio strategies … and music is clearly a key part of that,” Lauren Nagel, Pandora’s VP and executive creative director, told Marketing Dive. “There’s a really natural connection for marketers to start to see music as an additional pathway of communication and expression of their own brand in order to reach consumers.”

Nagel noted a Nielsen survey that found 75% of Americans chose music as their top form of entertainment, surpassing TV (73%). Marketers are listening to that consumer interest, as a slew of recent campaigns have seen them enlist pop stars, R&B singers and rappers to write and perform original songs.

“There is this kind of tendency to build a musical identity and partner with well known artists,” Steve Milton, co-founder of sonic-branding agency Listen, told Marketing Dive. “The challenge that you have is you’re leaning on the brand of that artist, and so to build a brand asset, it’s like you’re going into partnership mode off the bat.”

“I think there can be a symbiotic or reciprocal relationship happening there that actually is not selling out, but adds value to both sides.”
Steve Milton, Listen, co-founder

Click here to read full article by Chris Kelly

COULD LIVE STREAMED CONTENT BE THE MOST EFFECTIVE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT TOOL?

By | Blog

Could Live Streamed Content Be Your Most Effective Employee Engagement Tool?

 

Music makes the world go around. There are few places in today’s High Street, from stores and salons and restaurants and pubs, where it does not add to the overall experience. Even banks, building societies and many an office are aware of the positive benefits of music.

Yet even today, and particularly at this time of year, businesses can get the music mix so wrong: constant Christmas tunes played on an endless loop – potentially irritating for customers and workers alike.

It needn’t be so, and often isn’t. Forget the generic CDs on repeat, savvy retailers, restauranteurs and other businesses realise that, rather than background music, in-store streaming is all about the “now”.

Live services allow people to interact and businesses to tailor their communications on the fly: providing news, entertainment and promotions to boost consumer mood and more. You’re providing an experience, creating an atmosphere. It’s real time, it’s immediate and it fosters a sense of community.

Our clients, including JD Sports, HSBC and Subway understand the power of music, delivered in-house, on brand and, increasingly, away from the business premises through Smartphone apps that also deliver supporting content such as promotions, forums and location services.

And it is not only customers who benefit from these brand-based stations: it also boosts the morale of employees; impacts their productivity and allows them to feel part of a bigger whole.

Could in-store “radio” actually be your most effective employee engagement tool?

There’s nothing more fundamental to having loyal, engaged and productive employees than good communication.

It absolutely makes sense for today’s brands to become media owners, curating experiences that reach their audiences. And one of a brand’s audiences, its potential biggest advocates, is its employees themselves.

Take HSBC, whom we first started working with in 2005, trialling the HSBC Live station that was later rolled out to its network of 1,100 branches. Its brief was to create a more consistent retail environment, providing a mix of news, music and sport as well as promotions for the bank’s range of financial services. It became apparent early on that customers appreciated the service – but so too did HSBC’s body of 45,000 staff in the UK.

Unsurprising: as a broadcaster I know how music especially is woven into our identity as human beings and influences our mood and energy levels. If it works for a consumer in a shop just how much more powerful is it for that till worker, that bank cashier, hairdresser or waiter in that environment for a shift of some six hours or more?

There’s growing evidence to support this claim. In one study a University of Illinois researcher gave MP3 players to 75 out of 256 retail staff to wear at work for four weeks. At the end of the test, the music listeners showed a 10% jump in productivity and were described as being “less nervous, less fatigued, more enthusiastic and more relaxed at work than the people in the control group”.

And research conducted by the Institute of Leadership & Management has argued that managers could cut absence from sickness by seven million days a year simply by switching on the radio.

Take that a step further: with a bespoke service, businesses can use audio as a channel to reinforce the corporate brand, bring together disconnected employees and communicate key messages through a shared experience. Think of shout-outs to colleagues, or slots before and after opening and closing hours to rally the workforce or deliver pertinent information.

I think that’s particularly powerful when it comes to Britain’s increasingly fragmented workforce. As we increasingly move to more flexible working solutions, such as working from home, on the road or as the use of contractors, subcontractors and occasional workers grows, it is vital businesses are able to communicate simply, easily and in a human way.

Where the workforce is remote and opportunities to collaborate are challenging, sound is – perhaps – our biggest asset.

Openreach is one such example. We’ve worked with the BT-owned infrastructure provider to bring its employees (most of whom are on the road) a 24/7 real time digital audio channel via their phones. Such an App can, of course, also support employee initiatives such as documents, interactive video, messaging and more – all contained within a single, staff-focused hub.

Such streams or stations allow workers to feel part of a bigger community whether they’re front of house, in head office or on the road. It also gives employers an immediate feed-back loop. Who’s listening when, what and how? What are they saying? The data from such services, increasingly, will feed into the business and allow functions such as HR greater insight into the minds of their staff.

Since launching in 2000 as in-store radio providers we’ve seen a rapid evolution of the brand audio landscape – and in a mobile-first, digital and increasingly fragmented world I can only see this continuing.

It’s good for business, good for our customers and good for the productivity, health and wellbeing of our staff – who are our biggest brand advocates for better or for worse.

After all, we’re better, connected.

 

GENERATION Z’S CHANGING TASTES: MUSIC TO THE EARS OF ADVERTISERS EVERYWHERE?

By | Blog

For many brands, Gen Z are the new focus of attention as this youngest of generations rise through school and university, and increasingly enter the workforce.

 

Forget digital natives, these guys – born between 1995 and 2010 – are the first really truly mobile generation.

It’s exciting and scary for advertisers in equal measure: exciting because they really ‘do’ get (and help shape) all these new channels of communication; scary because of the many myths that surround this population.

This audience is concerned with experience above all else – however that is delivered. They want to work for their success, not be discovered, according to a report by Barkley and FutureCast; they believe that equality is non-negotiable; they want brands to be ‘real’ so they can be ‘unique’ and they have their own social media system of rules and etiquette.

In short, this generation is all about presenting their curated identity in a way that is authentic to them – and they expect brands to help them in this purpose.

How can we as marketers capitalise on this, and build brands that are based not on simply selling but that become a bigger and more relevant part of our customers’ lives?

As Gen Z increasingly enters the workplace, they matter more than what they offer in spending power. They matter because what comes instinctively to them today will become increasingly natural to many of us tomorrow.

Let’s take a look at how we can learn from and capitalise on the very particular habits of today’s under-23s.

Gen Z spends significant amounts of time on social media and video platforms. According to research by Adobe, in the UK, the average Gen Z spends a huge 10.6 hours engaging with online content every single day (compared to 8.9 hours for millennials and an overall average of 6.9 hours). They’re mobile-first and use their phone more than any other device. They’ll also use multiple devices at any one time.

This shift in behaviour means that marketers can reach this group whenever, and wherever they are; they can devise strategies that effectively link their retail presence with online ecommerce and deliver experiences – be they digital or physical -through the bridge of the smartphone. Clicks and bricks have never been closer. And nor has the customer.

Take our partnership with JD Sports, for example. This summer we launched JD X, a music service that includes a live channel that’s broadcast both in stores and through its transactional mobile app.

We know our audience is into exclusives, they want to find the best new music, want to search out new experiences and to be part of a community. The live station plays mostly urban music – grime, hip-hop and R&B alongside interviews with athletes such as boxing’s Anthony Joshua (a brand ambassador) and musicians. Customers are encouraged to interact via the app by submitting shout-outs or to catch up on shows they’ve missed. There are also a number of other, complementary content streams that are tweaked and changed on an ongoing basis.

And unlike on other platforms all the data is immediately available to the brand, allowing it to iterate on the go, and to help inform its plans around events, retail environments and so on. Crucially, could JD X be the added extra that makes a customer buy a pair of Adidas from JD Sports rather than any one of the thousands of other outlets?

The audience buys in to the JD universe. Sales are up and the service is being rolled out across Europe and beyond. This is a brand that understands who its audience is – something that is sometimes forgotten in the rush for short term sales at the expense of long-term brand patronage.

Advertising guru John Hegarty said recently: “My obsession has always been, when I’m creating a piece of work, the audience I’m talking to.”

He continues: “If you’re in marketing your job is to ensure your potential audience; everything else is a side issue. If you can inspire them to come to your brand you will have a brilliant brand that will have fantastic value and create great results.”

I couldn’t agree more. By tapping directly into your target audience you’re creating more than communications: you’re creating a community; a club; a hub. Done well and with honesty and integrity you’re also bringing a deeper layer of brand trust, creating interest and excitement, compelling curiosity and inviting surprise through carefully curated content.

For Generation Z, this is expected. They have a collaborative relationship with the brands they endorse and know the value exchange – often preferring it to traditional ‘advertising’, which they see as staid, forgettable and overwhelming in number – too easy to tune out. They want to be partners in much that they do and have a much more mindful attitude to everything from careers and experiences through to health and wellness.

Brands that understand and respect this have a head start. They understand the particular nuances of these younger generations but also consider how these changing behaviours will siphon through to the Gen Xers, the Baby Boomers et al. And, in time, how will Generation Alpha – those born after 2010, reset our expectations?

By Bruno Brooks, founder and CEO of Immedia

BENEFITS OF MUSIC IN THE WORKPLACE

By | Blog

Web FX have produced an interesting article on the affects of listening to music within the work place: Does listening to music at work help your performance? Or does it slow you down?

MUSIC AND PRODUCTIVITY

Music has the ability to influence how we experience things around us, and happy tunes can make work more enjoyable.

If you listen to music at work, you’re in good company. In fact, 61% of employees listen to music at work to make them happier and more productive.

And according to research, it works! Studies show that 90% of workers perform better when listening to music, and 88% of employees produce more accurate work when listening to music.

Listening to music not only boosts workplace efficiency, it can also improve your mental and emotional well-being.

MUSIC AND BUSINESS

65% of business owners agree that music makes employees more productive, and 77% of small- and medium-sized business owners believe that playing music increases employee morale.

In certain industries, such as retail and hospitality, music has an even greater impact on employee performance and attitude. Happy employees provide better customer service, and improved customer experience can lead to more revenue and word of mouth marketing.

In fact, 40% of business owners believe that playing music can actually increase sales, and research shows that without music, 25% of retailers and 33% of hospitality companies would actually lose business.

So if you want to boost your revenue, you may want to grab some headphones, find your favorite station, and get down to business.

MUSIC AND THE BRAIN

Have you ever started crying while listening to a sad ballad or tapped your foot along to a happy tune?

Music arouses emotion from the nucleus accumbens, a major player in the brain’s reward circuit. The nucleus accumbens operates on two neurotransmitters: dopamine, which helps regulate emotional responses, and serotonin, which can affect mood and social behavior.

This is why songs can instantly grab our emotions and transport us back to a certain time and place.

An experiment at McGill College found that listening to music activates the same brain structures and regions linked to other euphoric stimuli, such as food, sex, and drugs. Blood rises and falls with the swells of music in areas of the brain associated with reward, emotion, and arousal.

In addition, music activates that motor cortex, the part of the brain that controls voluntary movements. So if you find yourself moving to the beat of a song, you can thank your motor cortex.

Music also stimulates memories from the hippocampus, the center of memory, learning, and emotion located in the medial temporal lobe of the brain. This is why listening to a particular song can take you on a walk down memory lane.

WHY PEOPLE LOVE MUSIC

Ever wonder why people are so passionate about music?

Music releases dopamine in the reward center of the brain, the same chemical released when you eat your favorite food or when you get a new follower on social media. And it makes you want more!

This is also why finding new music you love is so exciting. Listening to pleasurable music releases dopamine, and dopamine increases happiness.

People also love music because they can express their personalities and opinions through the music they listen to. And they can often relate song lyrics to experiences in their own lives.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF MUSIC

Listening to music also has a multitude of health benefits. It:

  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Decreases pain
  • Improves immune function
  • Aids memory
  • Increases motivation

According to neuroscientists, listening to music magnifies positive emotion through the reward centers of the brain, and it stimulates hits of dopamine that can distract you from painful or stressful situations.

Music therapy is also beneficial for dementia patients, helping them recall memories and emotions.

MUSIC FOR BOOSTING PRODUCTIVITY

Music provides a great escape in noisy office environments, and it can help you drown out distractions to keep you at the peak of productivity.

However, how do different genres of music impact productivity?

In addition, 58% of people completed tasks more quickly when listening to pop music. So if you need to get a job done quickly, play your favorite pop tunes.

Ambient noise is also great for sparking creativity and improving concentration.

Contact Immedia today to discover our award-winning brand engage solutions within Retail, Hospitality, Banking, Automotive and more.