145 Years Young: Digital Innovation at The Met

June 17, 2015

In 1967, IBM founder Thomas J. Watson approached The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with a then unheard of offer… to donate computers to the Museum. The Met declined. Ironically, one particular curator doubted that a computer would be a “time-saving device.”

This resistance to joining the technology-driven world may now seem as dated as a piece from the Met’s Ancient collection, given that 2011 marked the year the Met lifted its cell phone ban and redesigned its website for optimal viewing on smartphone screens. And in 2013, the Museum’s first-ever Chief Digital Officer, Sree Sreenivasan, was brought on board to digitally transform the museum experience.

Art and technology have long been bedfellows—from Michelangelo with his chisel and hammer to Ryan TrecartinSree Sreenivasan at BRITE'15 with his mixed-media video installations. Speaking at the BRITE ’15 conference, Sreenivasan, who is also formerly Columbia University’s first Chief Digital Officer, noted, “Any art you see today is because the artist used the right technology at the right time—the right canvas, the right marble, the right tools.”

Sreenivasan understands firsthand the challenges of keeping pace with a rapidly evolving digital world, particularly at renowned institutions with such historical significance. At BRITE ’15, Sreenivasan shared insights from digital, mobile and social lessons learned during his tenure with The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He explained that a consistent strategy across mobile and social media platforms, like the one employed by the Met, is pivotal to staying relevant and continuing to meet consumers’ day-to-day desires in this age of constant change and innovation.

It’s no secret that mobile is now more important than ever. In September 2014, the Met launched its first app. Sreenivasan wanted to provide Museum visitors with an app that would speak more directly to their interests, “instead of putting the whole museum in [their] pocket.” Art enthusiasts can track upcoming events, save their favorite works of art to their smartphones and tweet about their favorite exhibitions. Within two weeks of its release, the app was downloaded more than 100,000 times and has been hailed as one of the Apple Store’s “Best New Apps.”

Though his title is Chief Digital Officer, Sreenivasan considers himself to be more of a “Chief Listening Officer,” observing the varying interests and behaviors of the institution’s 6 million museum attendees and the 30 million unique online visitors a year. “That’s a lot of listening,” quipped Sreenivasan.

One result of all that listening was a commitment to creating hashtags for each exhibition. No small feat, considering the Met currently houses over 2 million works of art. Sreenivasan credits the audience who tweeted their wishes for an intuitive way to share their museum experiences.

Sreenivasan notes that audiences are becoming increasingly “culturally curious,” eager to glimpse the behind-the-scenes of installations. The Met answered this growing need by displaying online the restoration of one of its most coveted acquisitions, Everhard Jabach (1618–1695) and His Family, ca. 1660, by French artist Charles Le Brun.

Charles Le Brun (French, Paris 1619–1690 Paris) Everhard Jabach (1618–1695) and His Family, ca. 1660 Oil on canvas; 110 1/4 × 129 1/8 in. (280 × 328 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift, in honor of Keith Christiansen, 2014 (2014.250) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/626692

Through the Met’s social channels, fans and followers were able to view this typically veiled process from anywhere in the world. “Instead of working on it in secret for a year and then putting it out, we’ve already started blogging about it.” Viewer comments have ranged from questions surrounding oil paint solvents to expressions of gratitude for the ability to witness art history in the making.

One such commenter said, “Thank you for giving us the opportunity to see this fascinating work…. [R]eading about it does not convey the same image.”

Another asked, “How many more do we have to look forward to? I’m anxious to see the work in the gallery, but not so much that I wish you to rush, rush. I am enjoying my time!”

When it comes to choosing social media platforms, Sreenivasan advised that, depending on your business, you don’t always have to be on every network, and “there is no reason to be first [on a social media platform]. Join when it makes sense for you.” Sreenivasan reminded the audience of the potential minefield of controversy that social media platforms can become. “Almost everyone will miss everything you do until you make a mistake,” he cautioned. In the October 2014 New York Times article, Museums Morph Digitally, Amit Sood, director of the Google Cultural Institute in London, echoed this sentiment, “I learned not to underestimate museums. They were a little slow to the digital game. That’s a good thing.”

Slow to the digital game, perhaps, but well-conceived. Sreenivasan’s digital strategy at The Metropolitan Museum of Art has allowed this nearly 150 year-old institution to remain a timeless cultural mainstay while continually reinventing how it delivers art to art enthusiasts, based on their desires as they express them, from their smartphones to the front steps of the Museum itself.

BY THEO LEGRO


The Future of Omni-Channel: Innovations & Experiences

June 17, 2015

net-a-porterIn this technology-driven age, a common challenge for companies has been integrating new technologies into their existing business models, marketing and operations. This has been said to remain true for luxury brands. Convention has held that digital commerce is for the penny-wise. Research and consulting firm McKinsey dispels this perception. It reported that nearly 50% of luxury purchases are in fact influenced by digital. Warc’s Darika Ahrens aptly notes, “High-end income earners love high-end technology.”

Recognizing this, luxury fashion brand Rebecca Minkoff, an early adopter of new technologies in retail, is leading the way in immersive experiences that touch upon all senses to resonate with these digital-savvy, affluent consumers. Speaking at the Center Emily-Culp-BRITEon Global Brand Leadership’s BRITE ’15 conference, Emily Culp, Rebecca Minkoff’s SVP of eCommerce and Omni-Channel Marketing, discussed driving customer lifetime value by delivering multi-faceted experiences derived from technology, insights and organizational structure.

In 2014, Rebecca Minkoff launched its “Connected Stores” in New York and San Francisco with a fully integrated consumer experience. Interactive mirrors entice customers to browse video and content, order complimentary beverages, save merchandise options to their devices via the Rebecca Minkoff app, and check in-store and online inventory. Culp explained that by leveraging beacon technology and RFID tags, Rebecca Minkoff offers an even more perRebecca-Minkoff-Connected-Storesonalized experience. “When [our customer] walks into the fitting room, it recognizes merchandise and gives recommendations on what to wear [the item] with.” Customers can even adjust fitting room lighting to reflect the setting in which they would don the outfit (e.g. “SoHo after dark”).

In developing experiences for their omni-channel consumer, the question Culp asks herself is straightforward: “How do we flawlessly execute this omni-channel marketing in such a complex ecosystem?” At BRITE ’15, she outlined four essential points to succeed at this:

  1. Leadership: the ability to embrace smart risk and experimentation
  2. Expertise: building teams with hybrid skill-sets (e.g. creativity combined with an understanding of metrics)
  3. Linkage: breaking down the silos to align the KPIs of different departments
  4. Communication: sharing insights even when they may seem irrelevant to another team. “Maybe they can take it in a different way that another hasn’t [considered],” explained Culp.

Culp stresses the importance of not employing technology for technology’s sake. It should have a purpose. Rebecca Minkoff’s objective is to use technology to seamlessly deliver value to their consumers, relieving pain-points and empowering them to make informed decisions while shopping in-store and on any device at any time, anywhere in the world.

Through research, Culp’s team discovered that their consumer checks her smartphone, on average, 150 times a day, spiking at different points depending on when she’s at work using her computer or at night on her tablet. “The constant is mobile. So for us, when we’re looking at omni-channel marketing… we start with mobile.”

Rebecca-Minkoff-App

That said, culling data from all touchpoints—mobile, web, events, public relations, in-store—is at the foundation of their approach. “A lot of people think that data is boring,” she explains. “I inherently think that this is one of the most creative and fascinating parts of marketing today.” Quantitative and qualitative insights paint a holistic picture of their consumer. “[W]e can see as she traverses across these different channels what her behavior is and help her make informed decisions when it’s right for her.”

Check out Emily Culp’s talk at BRITE ’15 to hear more on developing omni-channel innovations and experiences to drive long-term value.

BY ALISON ABODEELY


Using Data to Create Meaningful Relationships

March 31, 2015

At the Center on Global Brand Leadership, we were delighted to host our 8th annual BRITE conference this March.  BRITE ’15 continued our aim to present a range of diverse content, with sessions that ran from the marketing insights and initiatives of Doritos to a discussion of whether the future of artificial intelligence and robotics will help or hinder humanity.

One clear theme that ran through a several sessions this year was the influence data will have on brand building and business development. The hype cycle around the specific phrase “big data” has waned, because companies are now driven by how to effectively extract value from, and avoid the dangers inherent in, collecting and connecting massive amounts of data.

Data for Insights and Surprising Customers

Ann Mukherjee, President of PepsiCo Global Insights, kicked off the conference by noting, “We have to take consumer expectations for unpredictable marketing and make it predictable.” Mukherjee discussed the Doritos brand, and how PepsiCo used consumer data to uncover that the Doritos fan was ‘young and hungry’ – hungry for everything, not just a snack. “They want to be challenged because as they get challenged they think about how they challenge themselves.”

When it comes to developing loyalty, the Doritos target audience is no picnic. “Young snackers are promiscuous,” Mukherjee stated, “They’ll eat cardboard if it tastes good.” Given these dual insights, her challenge was to build something surprising, exciting, and most importantly scalable. At last year’s SxSW, her team did this by inviting the world to take part in its Doritos concert event, permitting fans to watch online and literally take control of the event by choosing lighting effects, songs that should be played, and what order artists should perform.

This ‘young and hungry’ insight also helped the brand redirect some of its marketing spend away from large TV spots. Instead, it looked for alternate opportunities to reach these young and hungry consumers, like partnering with the videogame Call of Duty and creating Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos. These tacos created so much buzz in limited release that six new manufacturing plants had to be built to meet the expected demand of the nationwide launch which spurred a 13% same-store sales increase in Q2 2012.

Meaningful Relationships

Martin Hayward, Senior Vice President of Global Digital Strategy and Futures at Aimia, stated in our joint keynote that Aimia hopes to help create a “utopian” future in which personal data access and permission controls are used, “to develop ‘real relationships,’ which is where the trust between consumers and companies is such that they happily share data because they know that data will be used to reward them and build long-term relationships for mutual benefit.”

Aimia_Four_Future_Landscapes_BRITE15
From the first teases of data coming out of a new research effort between our Brand Center and Aimia, we see evidence that consumers are right now suspect of companies creating this utopian future, but they are also hoping for it. We looked at six industry categories and found that consumers don’t report much comfort in how companies handle their personal data, with all but financial services below a 50% comfort level. But, when asked about all kinds of specific data items – name, email, website history, social network access, etc. – roughly 80% of our respondents were more willing to share all of these pieces of information with a brand when they trusted it.

The goal of developing these meaningful relationships was echoed among a wide range of companies at BRITE ’15:

  • The start-up Billguard now has a million people voluntarily sharing access to their financial accounts because they collectively crowdsource fraudulent activities and save each other money. Founder and CEO Yaron Samid stated that Billguard is built as a trust brand and thus it is very careful about how to use all this data and work constantly with their community to uncover what additional offers or opportunities are viewed as truly added value.
  • At The Metropolitan Museum of Art, against the Chief Digital Officer’s better judgment, a decision was made to require visitors to submit their email when connecting to the museum’s free Wi-Fi. Within a few months, however, over 100,000 valid new email addresses had entered the museum’s database. As CDO Sree Sreenivasan told the BRITE audience, “What is the lesson there, that your CDO may not know anything he is talking about… but more importantly, be open-minded with any new idea.” If you provide true value to people, they are often happy to give up some information in exchange.
  • Chris Wiggins, Chief Data Officer at The New York Times, noted that he spends less time looking at online article clicks since the paper aims to generate trusted and loyal consumers that want to support the magazine with a subscription, rather than just gather eyeballs that the company can sell advertising against.

Of course, one of the keys to building these meaningful relationships, and connecting data to provide more targeted or personalized consumer experiences, is knowing where to draw the line. As Mike Weaver, Director of Data Strategy & Precision Marketing at Coca-Cola, stated, “If I say, I know you like music and let me relate my brand to your passion, so far we think that is ok. But if I say, I know you love Taylor Swift’s new album and especially the third track on that album, then you are going to get a little creeped out and we don’t want to get anywhere near that.”

Lots of Data Won’t Be Personal

At BRITE we also noted that large swaths of the new data deluge are going to be collected not directly from people, but by devices around the world that are joining the Internet of Things. By 2050, estimates are that anywhere from 30 to 75 billion devices will be connected to the internet.

The hype around the Internet of Things is often connected to devices used by everyday consumers. And at BRITE ’15 we had the pleasure of hearing Billie Whitehouse, Founder and CEO of Wearable Experiments, talk about her company’s efforts to entwine articles of fashion with the internet. This ran from the practical – Navigate, a GPS jacket that gathers data to help guide you through major cities [video] — to the, shall we say, more entertaining side of things – Fundawear, for which you’ll just have to watch the clip [video].

But beyond this hype, the reality is that just as many, if not more, of these connected devices will be part of the industrial economy – think of areas such as transportation, city planning, and manufacturing. In a new research collaboration that David Rogers and I are conducting with SAP, we find that for most firms, the top priority in implementing an Internet of Things initiative is gaining efficiencies and cost savings, with revenue as a secondary objective.

We also found that depending on the firm’s core business case – cost savings vs. revenue – the value firms sought to extract from data collection was different. Increasing the visibility of operations or improving customer service and decision-making rose to the top in firms driven by cost-savings, while revenue-focused firms were driven by opportunities to provide more customized products and services, gather greater customer insight, and create new business models.

But for each of these companies, the top barriers in developing these initiatives were the same – data privacy and security threats. Everyone is aware that these connected devices have the potential for great benefit, but attention to the privacy and security of the data they collect is paramount to their long term success.

Conclusion

As Martin Hayward told the BRITE audience, in many markets and categories the current use of data sadly leans more towards ‘offer anarchy,’ with companies seeking only to reach more and more consumers with purely transactional deal-based opportunities, all aimed at short-term immediate sales. Our data future will hopefully be more utopian, and not draconian, if companies and their stakeholders are able to build mutual trust and a rewarding value exchange.

How are you treating your data and building your relationship with stakeholders?

BY MATTHEW QUINT


CVS Kicks The Habit and Sticks to Selling Good Heath

February 25, 2015

Health and wellness are good for the mind, body, and soul, but they are also increasingly good for business. For a retailer like CVS, where pharmacy services are at its core, you’d think this sentiment would resound throughout the company; but a couple of years ago, CVS and its Senior VP of Corporate Social Responsibility, Eileen Howard Boone, realized the brand needed to reevaluate one prominent product on its shelves: cigarettes.

With cigarettes raking in nearly $2 billion in sales, and constituting 2% of CVS’s sales (as of 2012), it’s hard to imagine eliminating this revenue stream in a low margin business. However, in October of 2014, the company rebranded its corporate name to CVS Health and became the first major U.S. drugstore to remove tobacco products from its 7,600 stores.  “The decision to stop selling cigarettes was one that came with a financial risk. Eliminating $2 billion in sales is not something that is done every day by a Fortune 12 publicly-traded company,” Ms. Howard Boone told Forbes. While publically committing to reduce near-term revenue is a tough sell for a public company, Howard Boone and CVS Health considered other serious numbers, like the approximately 430,000 deaths that are attributed to cigarette smoking annually.

For CVS Health, the business case was clear.  Providing health care services and promoting health as a core purpose would not be sustainable while selling a product that so directly competes with that aim. To Eileen Howard Boone, it’s all part of innovating and reinventing the business for the benefit of the customers. “Despite this loss in revenue, we were willing to take that risk, to ensure a positive impact on the long-term health of our customers, clients and colleagues and to advance the dialogue on public health,” she explained. It is important to note that while some cities like Boston and San Francisco ban the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies, the decision by CVS Health was completely voluntary. But many interested parties were already advocating for pharmacies to stop cigarette sales, beginning with the American Pharmacists Association in 2010. Dr. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which focuses on public health, called CVS Health’s decision “a bold, precedent-setting move because it acknowledges that pharmacies have become healthcare settings,” and hopes it will serve as a model for other pharmacies to follow suit.

As Boone explained in a recent interview with Forbes, the company’s CSR strategy, appropriately dubbed “Prescription for a Better World,” is three-pronged: building healthier communities, protecting the planet, and creating economic opportunities. The decision to eliminate tobacco products is just the tip of the iceberg in building healthier communities. CVS has aligned themselves with community partners such as the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE a women’s support program to educate and promote awareness.  Like the many companies truly embracing the CSR spirit, CVS Health is ensuring its CSR initiatives go hand in hand with business strategy and key decisions that start at the top. “I’m very fortunate to have the example of our CEO, our board and our senior leadership team.  This year, they made a bold move that really showed me firsthand what it means to be a leader in the area of corporate responsibility.”

See Eileen Howard Boone speak at BRITE ’15 (March 2-3, NYC) and hear more about the the power of purpose and the strategic role of CSR as a business imperative.

BY JENNIE MILLER ’15


Under Armour Shows “I Will,” Becoming Nike’s Chief US Rival

February 18, 2015

On the last day of August 2014, NBA player Kevin Durant tweeted, “Excited and humbled to sign back with the swoosh.” This highly anticipated announcement came after months of courtship from both Under Armour and Nike, with each offering escalating bids for the coveted endorsement of the NBA superstar. Under Armour ultimately lost the bid to Nike – but its aggressive tactics left a big impression.

Under Armour CEO, Kevin Plank, stated, “If you have a deal, there’s no deal too big for us.” Under Armour topped Nike’s original bid of $200M, forcing Nike to increase its offer to $350M. “Do I take pleasure in that they paid $150 million more than they planned on paying? Absolutely.”

Though boastful, these words of confidence are rooted in business reality. In a world where Nike hasn’t faced significant challengers in US market share or endorsement deals, Under Armour is gaining momentum. At the end of 2014, Under Armour overtook Adidas and became No. 2 in US market share in the sportswear category. While Adidas’ sales fell 20-30% in apparel and shoes, Under Armour’s apparel sales grew 17%, and it’s relatively young line of shoes had a 34% bump in sales. Looking through the lens of brand strategy and marketing tactics, it is easy to see why.

Plank founded Under Armour to “build the better sports shirt” at a time when wicking materials were still rare in the category. The company continues to launch new products fueled by technological innovation thereby putting pressure on the competition. In the past few years, its portfolio has expanded to address more sportswear needs – launching shoes and a women’s line, for example. It also branded and incorporated its signature innovations (Infrared, Magzip) across its product portfolio. These efforts have created both clear brand differentiation and functional benefits to meet changing consumer expectations.

At the core of Under Armour’s brand lies its credo, a fierce, passionate call-to-action for competing and winning, encapsulated by its two-word tagline – “I will.” It has excelled at connecting its functional benefits to the emotional aspects of sports, and it developed a communications strategy that dripped with attitude and resonated with a well-defined consumer target.  Initially, this fierce image limited its appeal to a hard core male audience, but the company has ambitiously and effectively reached out to a wider base that includes women focused on fitness.

Its latest campaign, “I WILL WHAT I WANT,” has been a viral hit.  The ad features American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland rehearsing while a voiceover reads a rejection letter she received at age 13 stating that she has “the wrong body for ballet.” Supporting the ad is a dedicated community website that allows women to post their fitness goals and share their progress with others.

In 2013, Plank also brought Under Armour into the fitness tracking marketplace — a category created, in part, by market leader Nike — with its purchase of MapMyFitness and its release of the Armour39 smart chest band. This January at CES, he formally launched Record, a fitness app designed to be device agnostic, extending the brand more widely into this arena. Working with HTC, the company plans to develop additional connected products for Record, but nothing formal has been announced. Plank is likely being cautious given Nike’s strategic move away from the Fuelband and additional hardware innovations.

Under Armour still has a way to go to challenge Nike, a brand that has also cultivated an image of power and achievement that resonates with athletes, both professional and amateur. On top of that, Nike demonstrated initial category leadership by developing technology enhancements and a social community of people focused on improving their fitness through Nike+. Some argue that Nike will remain unchallenged for years to come, but it is clear that the sportswear contest has shifted, and Under Armour has emerged as a powerful challenger.

BY NANCY LU ’16 and MATTHEW QUINT


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