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Beyond Consistency: Delivering Relevance in Omnichannel Encounters

Posted By: SGK November 05, 2015

Consistency is essential. But consistency for its own sake is an uninspired goal, leading only to predictable, even boring consumer experiences. Brand owners and marketers need to fight against sameness to relentlessly deliver relevance, advises Otto Hektor, VP of Brand Development, Americas at SGK.

That means becoming comfortable with bringing different executions of the same idea to different touchpoints. On second thought, “comfortable” isn’t the right word. Relevance requires bravery. 

But then, there’s a kind of bravery behind everything we do when we relate to one another as humans. We’re emotional creatures – not looking for consistent, rational connections, but rather for ever-new experiences of companionship. A laugh. A fresh perspective. Support in hard times and sharing in good times. All of that requires the bravery to open up and engage, to express one’s full personality and presence in every situation. 

Brands with a true personality enrich consumers’ lives much like a vibrant human relationship does – through reliable consistency, yes, but also through experiences that are always fresh, engaging and in the moment. 

Take a look at what L’Oreal is doing these days. Anywhere but in a brick-and-mortar store, shoppers can’t directly see, hold and try the beauty products they’re considering. That represents a huge barrier to purchase. But rather than focus all its marketing efforts on the in-store channel, where most sales take place, L’Oreal has also made substantial investments in digital tools that reveal a completely different strategy and execution than you’ll find in-store or in traditional advertising channels. 
Another brand bravely creating relevant new touchpoints is Target. Consider the “Target Too” art exhibit that recently popped up in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood – a focal point of the art world, with hundreds of galleries. Target Too features 12 art installations incorporating Target products. For example: a seven-foot milk carton tipped over, spilling “milk” in the form of hundreds of white kitchen utensils, plates, saucers, bowls and cups. Or a giant mural of smiling red lips made of more than 3,000 lip balm packages. Or the Target bulldog mascot, rendered in Legos. 

The exhibit alone would be a great example of relevance tied to a specific place: A brand representation that fits perfectly in the artsy Chelsea neighborhood might seem out of place among the designer shops on Fifth Avenue. But there’s also a digital element that makes the experience even more relevant to a younger, more connected audience than the stereotypical Target shopper, a middle-aged, middle-income mom. Visitors are encouraged to download an app built specifically for the Target Too installation, allowing them to interact with exhibits on the spot. 

The whole notion of curation hinges on relevance. And look at the brands growing in this space: Graze, Birchbox and even retailers who are modifying their assortment at the local level are doing an amazing job of delivering relevance. Social selling makes the curated experience even more relevant for each shopper, in each situation. Consider the “Buy” buttons on Facebook and Twitter, or Wanelo’s “mall on your phone, curated by people just like you.” 

Curalate is a marketing and analytics company founded on the premise that consumers are increasingly communicating through pictures, not words. One of its offerings is a “Like2Buy” option for Instagram. It allows a retailer like Nordstrom to provide a socially connected and curated buying experience. 

Being truly relevant in omnichannel means giving consumers the ability to choose whatever channels they want to interact with – through the places and devices they choose – and delivering a convenient experience that resonates with whatever is happening at that moment in their lives. 

The complex hand-offs between channels need to be invisible to the shopper, and the content served needs to have continuity with the brand message – even though the executions may look incredibly varied when laid out in a 360° agency presentation. This, by the way, is the only time humans will see all the elements of a campaign at the same time. 

Because the goal isn’t to deliver a static, predictable experience. The goal is to tap into the variety, surprise and wonder of everyday life.