Kapitel 05 / GLOBALIZATION & LOKALE MÄRKTE

Trend marketing:

When Brands become

TRENDS

Apple, Google, Lego, adidas, BMW, Vespa – these and many other brands have found a way to conquer the hearts and minds of consumers. In live marketing communications they are referred to as ‘lovemarks’, brands that have succeeded in earning the un- conditional love of buyers. In her report, Anna Antonova explains how to win the consumer over and what special tools are being used to accomplish this.


PHOTOS // LOUDER AGENCY

AUTHOR // ANNA ANTONOVA, MANAGING PARTNER, SERVICEPLAN RUSSIA & LOUDER

The ‘premium mass market’ segment is popular among young Russian consumers (20 to 40-year-olds). Its products are dominat- ed by quality brands priced higher than the competition that stand out due to their positioning in the lifestyle segment. In other words, these products are “still short of a premium market, but no longer a mass market”. They are a part of the lifestyle of the creative class and share the values of the integral audience. In 2013, a separate business stream called ‘trend marketing’ was launched 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 with the subcultural target communities, and shapes or modifies a brand image to create a so-called ‘lovemark’.

Trend marketing roots

The trend marketing theory has received limited coverage in foreign literature. As a rule, 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 marketing stereotypically 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 revives brand images by means of unconventional communications. The key to success is an open dialogue with representatives of a subculture so brands can grow closer to their target audience.

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 in demand 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 brings lifestyle trends to life in Moscow. Their internal motivation is a desire to combine youth culture and modern art with brands.

How does it work?

Trend marketing campaigns work progressively from ‘Insiders’ to ‘Wannabes’.

Before offering a ready solution for a trend market- ing campaign, an in-depth analysis of the target audience and product values is required. Only then can the poten- tial success of a campaign for a particular brand be assessed.

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 their age or social status. That’s why a genuine match between the product and its positioning strategy is a key success factor of brand positioning in the community of opinion leaders.

The target audience of the trend marketing approach is more complicated. It is made up of the ‘Insiders’ (creative professionals such as producers, journalists, editors of leading and popular media, etc.), ‘Trend Adopters’ (representatives of the established middle class: professionals in the creative sphere, managers at large companies, small business executives, etc.) and ‘Wannabes’, who want to stand out among their peers and enjoy being at the forefront of the most modern and current trends. Trend marketing campaigns work progressively from ‘Insiders’ to ‘Wannabes’.

The audience

Before a product can be offered to trendsetters for subsequent promotion of the brand 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 marketing strategy is developed based on an actual analysis of public opinion and determination of the 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 local relevant partners and project creation, initiation of brand projects and activations with the involvement of local and international trendsetters, EIM (Global Enterprise Information Management), 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. Over the 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, stylish young men and women pursuing an active lifestyle. They follow the latest events and keep abreast of fashion trends. It is for them that the brand product is created and progressive events are staged.

As part of the strategy, several attention-grabbing projects were implemented throughout 2014, which set adidas Originals apart from the competition. The campaign techniques included trend marketing mechanics zeroing in on the most fashionable events that 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 attract young and active residents of the German capital. The exhibition pavilion was an exact replica of the Teufelsberg tower that had been used during the Cold War to eavesdrop on East Berlin. The tower housed the Secret Cloning Lab that performed a biometric scan and created 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 Originals x F&L Teufelsberg Pack, in a limited series of 300 pairs. Every hour, winners of the prize raffle received a miniature clone of themselves along with a pair of sneakers. Over 80,000 guests visited the pavilion in two days.

To attract the attention of contemporary musical culture enthusiasts, the adidas Originals team brought the Boiler Room musical show to Moscow and St. Petersburg. The show presented live performances from secret locations to both hemispheres of the globe. Admittance to such secret parties was granted to a limited number of persons who registered on the promo website and were randomly selected.

The biggest highlight in the summer of 2014 was the opening of an adidas Originals concept store on board the Brusov 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 was hand-painted by graffiti artists on the wall of the former Red October chocolate factory. Dmitry Oskes, the organiser of Faces & 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 20 Kuznetsky Most. It became the world’s first one-model (SUPERSTAR) store of the adidas Originals 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 in record time and built the store in nine days based on a concept developed by the Louder team and the architectural firm Woodi. The ground floor retail space is dedicated to the product. The first floor is an activation zone where exciting activities take place. There have been three notable events since the store opened: the actual store opening on 25th December; the 28th January launch of the global SUPERSTAR campaign, with Russian television 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 described as 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 fashionable name for such locations is a ‘place of force’.

Over 80,000 guests visited the pavilion in two days.

Heineken case study

Heineken is a premium brand with an emotional bond that is completely different from the customary way in which beer is perceived. Needless to say, this bond cannot be conveyed by a price promo at a supermarket.

One of the tools for creating the required perception of the brand is trend marketing platform 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 the audience to experience the brand.

Trend marketing is somewhat different because for Heineken it is part of a greater strategy 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 more far-reaching communications strategy. Essentially, the brand treats communities as agents of influence that tell a wider circle of people about what the brand is doing.

Trend marketing and opinion leaders have become important for Heineken because the 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 at the top. And on the other, they bring the new, much closer and fuller image of Heineken to a broader audience. In either case, the core is brand positioning, which is aligned with these 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 – continue in PR and SMM. This approach to the marketing strategy sets the brand apart from the competition, among other things.

Afterword

For the Louder team, trend marketing is like a problem child you love just that little bit more than the others. They are constantly improving internal tools, integrating the lat- est communications channels, finding innovative technologies, and searching for trendy subcultural communities driving the evolution of contemporary culture. They are certain that this business stream will take hold in Russia and will help many brands position themselves in the lifestyle environment.

KIRILL BONDARENKO, BRAND MANAGER AT ADIDAS ORIGINALS:

“We believe that trend marketing is one of the most effective and fundamental tools for managing the brand image. As part of trend marketing, we reach out mainly to local influencers 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 our campaigns help to tell the story and show our products in the relevant environment and from the right angle. When a celebrity wears a certain product, this serves as a certain guarantee of quality and style. This attracts considerable interest, highlighting the product and 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 and provide clothing for staff at the most fashionable or newly opened venues. This makes the brand a buzzword and keeps it constantly in the public eye. It conjures up associations with hype events and helps it stay trendy.

Our trend marketing strategy started to bear fruit after two years. While previously the adidas brand was perceived merely as a large retail chain and was associated with our sports 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 key brand 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 of quality 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 used in quantifying the performance of TV ads. And yet the quantitative parameters speak for themselves. The market share of Heineken in Moscow is growing. And preferred brand perception is also growing: it is up 20% in just two years.

We also have an additional parameter – social listening – which we always monitor as a must. We can see that the level of brand mentions in the online environment is growing from one event to the next.

Certain quality metrics are also worth mentioning. Heineken can be seen at many fashionable events in the capital city: at festival after-parties, mass-media anniversary cele- brations and exhibition openings. When we started implementing this platform, it was quite 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 the strategic goals of the Heineken brand and is revised and improved each year. We think we have 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 is working on.

Most importantly, the platform is not at a standstill, but is evolving with each passing year. It is currently perfectly aligned with its objectives. That’s why we will keep using it for as long as it helps us grow our market share and improve brand perception.”