Apple, Google, Lego, adidas, BMW, Vespa – these and manyother brands have found a way to conquer the hearts and mindsof consumers. In live marketing communications they are referredto as ‘lovemarks’, brands that have succeeded in earning the un-conditional love of buyers. In her report, Anna Antonova explainshow to win the consumer over and what special tools are beingused to accomplish this.
PHOTOS // LOUDER AGENCY
AUTHOR // ANNA ANTONOVA, MANAGING PARTNER, SERVICEPLAN RUSSIA & LOUDER
The ‘premium mass market’ segment is popular among youngRussian consumers (20 to 40-year-olds). Its products are dominat-ed by quality brands priced higher than the competition thatstand out due to their positioning in the lifestyle segment. In otherwords, these products are “still short of a premium market, butno longer a mass market”. They are a part of the lifestyle of thecreative class and share the values of the integral audience. In2013, a separate business stream called ‘trend marketing’ waslaunched in Russia for the purpose of targeting this audience.
Essentially, trend marketing helps to position a brand by integrat-ing it with an advanced target audience via communications withthe subcultural target communities, and shapes or modifies abrand image to create a so-called ‘lovemark’.
Trend marketing roots
The trend marketing theory has received limited coverage in foreign literature. As arule, technologies are closely guarded by the largest international agencies and made avail-able to their in-house employees only. Their knowledge bases are a valuable source of in-formation, backed up by the practical experience of the agencies.
It exists in America and Europe and was bound to appear in Russia sooner or later.Because there are a large number of brands in Russia that have been doing their marketingstereotypically for many years: spending their budgets inefficiently, lacking an overall strat-egy and an overarching idea. This caused the brand image to backslide and, as a result,lose its internal engine – the love of the brands’ fans.
What’s it for?
Trend marketing helps brands integrate into selected communities of opinion leaders,increase their presence in active urban life and enhance their role. Trend marketing revivesbrand images by means of unconventional communications. The key to success is an opendialogue with representatives of a subculture so brands can grow closer to their targetaudience.
Louder – the marketing and communications agency that has been a part of Service-plan International since 2015 – was the first agency to launch trend marketing in Russia.The Louder team brought their expertise in this field from Berlin. Incidentally, it is also indemand in New York and relevant for all metropolises of the world that have a high per-centage of young cosmopolitan people.
The Louder team understands the insights of the audience that generates and bringslifestyle trends to life in Moscow. Their internal motivation is a desire to combine youthculture and modern art with brands.
Before offering a ready solution for a trend market-ing campaign, an in-depth analysis of the target audienceand product values is required. Only then can the poten-tial success of a campaign for a particular brand beassessed.
The key group of consumers targeted by trend mar-keting are opinion leaders, also known as trendsetters.Their portrait is normally shaped by their personal views,taste, and principles by which they live, and not by theirage or social status. That’s why a genuine match betweenthe product and its positioning strategy is a key successfactor of brand positioning in the community of opinionleaders.
The target audience of the trend marketing approach is more complicated. It ismade up of the ‘Insiders’ (creative professionals such as producers, journalists, editors ofleading and popular media, etc.), ‘Trend Adopters’ (representatives of the establishedmiddle class: professionals in the creative sphere, managers at large companies, smallbusiness executives, etc.) and ‘Wannabes’, who want to stand out among their peers andenjoy being at the forefront of the most modern and current trends. Trend marketingcampaigns work progressively from ‘Insiders’ to ‘Wannabes’.
Before a product can be offered to trendsetters for subsequent promotion of thebrand image, it is important to discern the specific features that the product has to possess.These specific features are matched with real audience values. And then a trend marketingstrategy is developed based on an actual analysis of public opinion and determination ofthe core audience targeted by the brand.
Key trend marketing techniques include product seeding and brand integration, col-laborations, marketing adaptation of global campaigns, selection of international and localrelevant partners and project creation, initiation of brand projects and activations with theinvolvement of local and international trendsetters, EIM (Global Enterprise InformationManagement), community management, SMM (Social Media Marketing) and trend mar-keting content development.
Brand trends: adidas Originals case study
adidas Originals began implementing a trend marketing strategy in late 2013. Overthe course of several months, a strategy was developed for the Russian market and a num-ber of activations were launched to shape public opinion among the core target audience.
The core target audience comprises street fashion and culture enthusiasts, stylishyoung men and women pursuing an active lifestyle. They follow the latest events and keepabreast of fashion trends. It is for them that the brand product is created and progressiveevents are staged.
As part of the strategy, several attention-grabbing projects were implementedthroughout 2014, which set adidas Originals apart from the competition. The campaigntechniques included trend marketing mechanics zeroing in on the most fashionable eventsthat appeal to the target audience of the brand.
The Faces & Laces city culture exhibition, which channelled the subject of ‘Sur-veillance and Spying’ in 2014, became a site for a unique brand space designed to attractyoung and active residents of the German capital. The exhibition pavilion was an exactreplica of the Teufelsberg tower that had been used during the Cold War to eavesdrop onEast Berlin. The tower housed the Secret Cloning Lab that performed a biometric scan andcreated a miniature 3D figurine of visitors.
For the first time ever, a local product was created in col-laboration with the Faces & Laces team – the adidas Originalsx F&L Teufelsberg Pack, in a limited series of 300 pairs. Everyhour, winners of the prize raffle received a miniature clone ofthemselves along with a pair of sneakers. Over 80,000 guestsvisited the pavilion in two days.
To attract the attention of contemporary musical cultureenthusiasts, the adidas Originals team brought the BoilerRoom musical show to Moscow and St. Petersburg. The showpresented live performances from secret locations to bothhemispheres of the globe. Admittance to such secret partieswas granted to a limited number of persons who registered onthe promo website and were randomly selected.
The biggest highlight in the summer of 2014 was theopening of an adidas Originals concept store on board theBrusov Ship. The opening was preceded by a two-week an-nouncement campaign via the relevant communication chan-nels: posters were put up using an ambush marketing tech-nique, ads were posted at the Culture Park subway station,special projects were implemented with the relevant mass me-dia (The Village, Interview) and a large announcement washand-painted by graffiti artists on the wall of the former RedOctober chocolate factory. Dmitry Oskes, the organiser ofFaces & Laces, developed the key message of the campaign.His declaration of love for the capital city became its mani-festo and core idea, devoted to the store’s opening.
In late 2014, the company opened the SUPERSTAR Moscow store located at 20Kuznetsky Most. It became the world’s first one-model (SUPERSTAR) store of the adidasOriginals brand. The store’s opening marked the start of the global SUPERSTAR cam-paign on the Russian market that ended in October 2015. The team found the site inrecord time and built the store in nine days based on a concept developed by the Louderteam and the architectural firm Woodi. The ground floor retail space is dedicated to theproduct. The first floor is an activation zone where exciting activities take place. Therehave been three notable events since the store opened: the actual store opening on 25thDecember; the 28th January launch of the global SUPERSTAR campaign, with Russiantelevision personality Ivan Urgant as its face in Russia, and the March launch of Supercol-or — a special collection featuring Pharrell Williams.
Both stores are so much more than just retail outlets, in fact they are better describedas interesting art spaces that host exhibitions, parties, and performances. They are hang-outs where you can meet your friends on a daily basis, listen to music, play table tennis,table football or Xbox, and have a good time in the company of friends. The fashionablename for such locations is a ‘place of force’.
Heineken case study
Heineken is a premium brand with an emotional bond that is completely differentfrom the customary way in which beer is perceived. Needless to say, this bond cannot beconveyed by a price promo at a supermarket.
One of the tools for creating the required perception of the brand is trend marketingplatform Insight, which is especially relevant to the Moscow audience. Essentially, it in-volves a large number of activations aimed at attracting buyers. The platform enables theaudience to experience the brand.
Trend marketing is somewhat different because for Heineken it is part of a greaterstrategy and only one of the tools. The Louder agency helps Heineken find niche commu-nities and then use the force of these communities as one of the tools for building a morefar-reaching communications strategy. Essentially, the brand treats communities as agentsof influence that tell a wider circle of people about what the brand is doing.
Trend marketing and opinion leaders have become important for Heineken becausethe brand is a lifestyle product, rather than simply a beer people drink after work.
The Heineken brand needs influencers to be close to consumers, aligned with their in-terests at the highest level and part of their life. On the one hand, trend marketing plat-forms help the brand and its content strategy to select the most relevant topics and stay atthe top. And on the other, they bring the new, much closer and fuller image of Heineken toa broader audience. In either case, the core is brand positioning, which is aligned withthese interests all over the world: Heineken supports top international festivals and sport-ing events, opens the best bars and collaborates with celebrated designers.
Collaborations with trendsetters and opinion leaders in the offline world – at parties,events and sponsor integrations staged by, or with the partnership of, the brand – continuein PR and SMM. This approach to the marketing strategy sets the brand apart from thecompetition, among other things.
For the Louder team, trend marketing is like a problem child you love just that littlebit more than the others. They are constantly improving internal tools, integrating the lat-est communications channels, finding innovative technologies, and searching for trendysubcultural communities driving the evolution of contemporary culture. They are certainthat this business stream will take hold in Russia and will help many brands positionthemselves in the lifestyle environment.
KIRILL BONDARENKO, BRAND MANAGER AT ADIDAS ORIGINALS:
“We believe that trend marketing is one of the most effective and fundamental toolsfor managing the brand image. As part of trend marketing, we reach out mainly to localinfluencers and trendsetters who set the trends and influence the public opinion. Commu-nications with them mark the beginning of a new product launch on the market, while ourcampaigns help to tell the story and show our products in the relevant environment andfrom the right angle. When a celebrity wears a certain product, this serves as a certainguarantee of quality and style. This attracts considerable interest, highlighting the productand making it a desirable object.
As part of trend marketing, we also work on events, staging cool parties and presenta-tions while aiming to give people a unique experience. We collaborate with the most fash-ionable musicians, artists and organisations or integrate them into third-party events andprovide clothing for staff at the most fashionable or newly opened venues. This makes thebrand a buzzword and keeps it constantly in the public eye. It conjures up associationswith hype events and helps it stay trendy.
Our trend marketing strategy started to bear fruit after two years. While previouslythe adidas brand was perceived merely as a large retail chain and was associated with oursports categories, now the adidas Originals brand in the consumers’ mind’s eye is a fash-ionable street-style brand, worn by local influencers and trendsetters. They view it as a keybrand when choosing trainers for day-to-day wear and composing a trendy and fashion-able, modern sporty-style image.
What’s more, our events and parties are always a crowd magnet. Whenever a particu-lar project is organised or supported by adidas Originals, it serves as a kind of hallmark ofquality and as a guarantee for an interesting music line-up.”
VICTORIA LEBEDINSKAYA, GLOBAL BRANDS MARKETING MANAGER AT HEINEKEN:
“We have been implementing the Heineken Insight platform, which has trend market-ing and niche community outreach at its core, for three years now. Since it is a fairly un-conventional tool, we are unable to measure it using standard metrics such as those usedin quantifying the performance of TV ads. And yet the quantitative parameters speak forthemselves. The market share of Heineken in Moscow is growing. And preferred brandperception is also growing: it is up 20% in just two years.
We also have an additional parameter – social listening – which we always monitor asa must. We can see that the level of brand mentions in the online environment is growingfrom one event to the next.
Certain quality metrics are also worth mentioning. Heineken can be seen at manyfashionable events in the capital city: at festival after-parties, mass-media anniversary cele-brations and exhibition openings. When we started implementing this platform, it wasquite difficult for a beer brand to get a foothold at such events and be perceived as a pre-mium product. Now it’s our daily reality.
Today, Insight is a key platform for the Moscow audience. It accomplishes one of thestrategic goals of the Heineken brand and is revised and improved each year. We think wehave pretty much covered the niche communities and are thinking of expanding the plat-form to cover more people and tell them about the exciting projects that our brand isworking on.
Most importantly, the platform is not at a standstill, but is evolving with each passingyear. It is currently perfectly aligned with its objectives. That’s why we will keep using itfor as long as it helps us grow our market share and improve brand perception.”