In our previous post on experimentation, we looked at how brands have utilised social experiments in their campaigns.
This week, we’re continuing to look at how brands have harnessed new way to talk about your band and to get noticed.
Try out new products
Many brands, and industries, are turning to product experimentation as a marketing communications strategy. In this so-called post-demographic world, just as consumers aren’t expected to behave as they ‘should’, neither are brands. Many are turning product experimentation to their advantage.
Beers & spirits
In recent years, brewers and distillers, have embraced experimentation. Craft brewers like Dogfish Head, Brew Dog – with their famous ‘Roadkill’ edition – and Irish brewers like Rascal’s have blazed a trail in making trialling a constant variety of products part of their brand DNA. On one level, this strategy allows these brewers to create a beer pipeline that drives talkability, but product experimentation also allows brewers the chance to road-test new products, as limited editions, with relatively little risks. More recently, big brands, like Guinness, have started getting in on the act, and distillers like Teeling Whisksy are following this approach through promoting limited editions, cocktails, and branching out into collaborations with ice-cream makers and other food producers.
In Australia, 7-Eleven’s famous Slurpee was facing stiff competition from cheaper alternatives. The brand needed to bring an end to this ‘Cold War’ without reducing its price. They knew their young customers loved experimenting with Slurpee flavours, so they flipped the price discount on its head by creating a new product exploiting ‘prime real-estate above the cup’. The Xpandinator was a unique clip-on device that increased a cup’s volume by 1 litre, encouraging customers experiment with more flavours. By using a product to focus on the experience of consuming a Slurpee, this physical ‘mnemonic’ increased loyalty, and the campaign built around the Xpandinator drove a 21% sales increase.
Depaul UK sends a message on a box
Youth homelessness is a growing issue in the UK, and decreasing voluntary contributions coupled with increasing pressure on their services meant Depaul UK had to re-appraise their fundraising strategy. They honed in on the cardboard box as a powerful symbol: to some, a shelter, to others, an essential tool for moving home. Depaul UK set up Depaul Cardboard Box Company in 2013 to sell cardboard boxes to home-movers – the difference was, each box was printed with the stories of young people who had become homeless. By thinking outside the box, the charity created a new revenue stream, earning £20,000 in the first year which went directly into providing beds for young homeless people.
Explore new technology
Experimenting with technology is another powerful way brands have connected with consumers, creating an opportunity to engagingly tell their story, be relevant and culturally resonant.
Optus Clever Buoy
Optus, Australia’s second-largest mobile provider, had a problem: most Australians thought their rival’s network coverage was significantly larger than theirs even though it was identical. Optus needed to shift their message from size to network capability and the superiority of their coastal network. But instead of just saying this, they demonstrated it through a tech innovation. Shark attack is one of Australia’s biggest safety issues, so Optus created a smart ocean buoy that detects sharks and notifies lifeguards using their own phone network. By utilising technology in a way that resonated powerfully with Australians, the campaign generated huge media coverage and helped shift perceptions of the brand’s network.
Vodafone ‘Between Us’ app
Vodafone Turkey was looking to increase brand engagement and wanted to do so in a way that met a real need in the country. Over the last decade, 5,813 women were murdered in Turkey and, in 2014 alone, 132,000 women were subject to domestic violence. To address this, they created the ‘Red Light’ app: an app hidden as a smartphone flashlight that, when downloaded, could alert help unknown to their persecutor. The biggest challenge was to make women aware of the app without alerting their persecutors. Utilising digital video and social media pages, they posted female-specific content (such as hair and make-up tutorials) that would include hidden messages related to the app. Within one year, the app was downloaded by over 24% of all women in turkey with smartphones.
DB Export’s Brewtroleum
New Zealand beer brand, DB Export, wanted to re-connect with their core male audience who, they had discovered, were not all ‘blokey’, beer-swilling men – they turned out to be more invested in making a positive mark on the world than given credit for. Reflecting the brand’s pioneering history and their audience’s higher aspirations, DB Export created a new form of petrol: Brewtroleum. With the help of scientists, they used left-over yeast from their brewing process to create a biofuel which New Zealanders could use in their cars. Their simple message – that every time a man drinks a DB Export, they’re helping to save the world – and disruptive campaign resonated, leading to a 10% rise in sales and a 50,000kg reduction in carbon emissions.