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Meticulous Digital Works

Meticulous Digital Works layer petals, leaves and natural textures into Fantastic creatures



Melbourne-based artist Josh Dykgraaf has a discerning eye for matching two seemingly disparate elements.


In his ongoing Terraforms series, autumn leaves become feathers, magnolia petals wind into scales, and plumes form fins that swish through water. Each illustration merges flora and fauna into an entirely new fantastical creature, and a single piece can take days to complete, with the pair of Tawny Frogmouths, for example, clocking in at 55 hours and more than 3,000 layers.


“My process for how I pair natural textures with animals is usually a bit like cloud gazing—like as a kid, did you ever stare up out the clouds and make out different forms and shapes among them?” Dykgraaf says, noting that he takes all of his own photographs of the source materials on hikes or walks around his neighborhood. Once he returns to his studio, he painstakingly collages the extraordinary creatures, coating a closed beak in bark or an echidna in regrown brush following the East Gippsland fires.


In the coming months, Dykgraaf is shifting to a portrait series focused on Indigenous people around the world.


You can see a larger collection of the intricately constructed creatures on Instagram.




This article is from Thisis Colossal, March 8, 2021. Grace Ebert

7 great examples of branded content

What it is and how leading brands are using it well.

This article is an extract of Tom May’s article published on, on June 2018. Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in design and technology. He was previously associate editor at Creative Bloq and deputy editor at net magazine, the world’s best-selling magazine for web designers.



We live in fast-changing times for branding, marketing and advertising. As more and more of us use recording devices that let you skip TV commercials, along with ad-blocking software online, how does a brand get its message across?

One increasingly popular strategy is to use branded content. From sponsored magazine articles to online webisodes, music videos to short films, this kind of content is so entertaining, informative and engaging that consumers are happy to view and share it of their own volition.

The marketing message may be upfront or almost invisible, but that’s not what’s important. It’s all about making people want to see it, rather than being forced or tricked into seeing it.

Here we look at some of the best examples of branded content in the 2010s so far.

01. Newspaper article: Netflix


With the number of people willing to pay for newspapers and magazines falling, old media needs to find new sources of revenue – online as well as in print. One way to boost income is to run sponsored articles, but matching the right marketing message with engaging and informing content can be a tricky business.


This New York Times article, Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work, hits exactly the right note. Sponsored by Netflix’s hit prison drama Orange is the New Black, the longform read is fascinating, relevant and elegantly presented. Interactive images, a captivating video and strong journalistic content all add up to a great article that ticks all the boxes for both brand and reader.

02. Music video: Honda


OK Go is an alternative rock band from Chicago known for its funny and creative music videos. And its video for 2014’s I Won’t Let You Down, which debuted on NBC’s Today Show, put a whole new spin on product placement:


In it, the band members cavort around on Honda’s UNI-CUB self-balancing unicycles, which represented a massive PR coup for the company. Although there’s no actual mention of Honda, the video on YouTube – which has so far had over 38 million views – linked to an interactive website (now offline), allowing people to see behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and information about the Honda UNI-CUB itself.

03. Print magazine: Net-a-Porter


As one door closes, another opens. And with traditional publishers reluctant to launch new magazines, companies are fast stepping in to fill the vacuum. One of the most critically and commercially successful to date has been fashion retailer Net-a-Porter’s magazine, Porter.


By combining access to the website’s audience data with global magazine market intelligence, the company has been able to target the magazine’s content with laser accuracy, and achieve a circulation of around 180,000, outselling many traditional fashion magazines and even coming within spitting distance of Vogue.


As well as making money from the cover price, Net-a-Porter has put a lot of effort into making sure the bi-monthly title also drives retail sales. For example, readers are able to scan a print issue with the Net-a-Porter app, and immediately arrive at the relevant purchase page, making for a seamless shopping experience.


Porter’s sister title The Edit is even more transparent about its brochure-like ambitions, with buttons in the free digital magazine taking readers to ‘shop the issue’.

04. Viral video: Dove

Dove’s Real Beauty campaign stems from research suggesting that only four per cent of women would describe themselves as beautiful. This short video highlights this gap between perception and reality in brilliant fashion.


A sketch artist creates two drawings of a series of women. One is based on their own description of how they look; the other based on a stranger’s description. The discrepancy between the two highlights powerfully how inaccurate women’s own views of their beauty are.


With over 114 million views in just one month, this ad became the most viral video ad of all time. While it says nothing about the qualities of the product itself, the campaign got the world talking, and Dove has been part of that conversation – boosting sales massively in the process.

05. Radio station: Pedigree

Content marketing isn’t just about print, TV and online: broadcast radio remains a powerful and popular medium, and fertile ground for branded content. But perhaps the most unlikely example comes in the form of a New Zealand radio station for dogs.


K9FM was based on advice from pet experts that people should leave the radio on when they leave the house, to keep their dog company. But rather than a normal radio station, Colenso BBDO Auckland thought, why not one tailored to dogs themselves?


The agency created hours of original content to play all day, every day on the channel, including discussions on topics like The Frisbee: Voodoo, Magic, Science?; a sports section called Fetch in the Park, and a thought for the day entitled Chew on This.


K9FM received more than 1,000 phone calls from dog owners during the first two weeks of broadcasting, and within the three months of the campaign, Pedigree dog food enjoyed a three-year sales high.

06. Short film: Procter & Gamble

The maker of Always, Procter & Gamble, wanted to place puberty’s profound impact on girls’ confidence into the media spotlight. So it commissioned this short documentary by filmmaker Lauren Greenfield, which approaches the topic via the phrase ‘like a girl’.


A series of interviews show that for young children, ‘like a girl’, means to do something well, whereas for teenagers and young women it means to do it ineffectively.


The fourth most viewed ad in 2014 on YouTube, the video was followed up by several positive #LikeAGirl videos featuring sporting and cultural role models offering proactive solutions. For example, a 2015 video featuring Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams, Unstoppable, encourages girls to smash limitations set on them by society, which are visually interpreted as boxes stamped with prescribed roles for girls.

07. Feature film: Lego

You know you’ve succeeded at branded content when people are having so much fun, they don’t even notice they’re being marketed to.


The hilarious and surprisingly clever Lego Movie earned a worldwide total of over $469 million, all the while promoting Lego to a new global generation of kids.


It has been followed up so far by the Lego Batman Movie and Lego Ninjago Movie, with more in the pipeline – proving that when you get branded content right, everything really is awesome.

The Renault EZ-GO electric autonomous concept car

Unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show 2018, Renault's EZ-GO concept is a 'robo-vehicle' - a shared, electric, driverless vehicle.

This article is an extract of an article published by Martin Hislop on Designboom, March 2018.

Renault’s EZ-GO is both a vehicle and a service. It becomes part of the smart city ecosystems that are being developed by governments, municipalities and the private sector. Its modular platform allows other possible uses. The concept provides an on-demand mobility solution for all. It works through an instant-booking service from an app, or from in-town stations, depending on the preference of the operator.

The service may be operated by private or public organisations. It can potentially operate 24/7 and it supplements car ownership and mass transit such as subways and busses. It combines the flexibility and comfort of individual transport with the efficiency and the safety provided by public transport.


The driverless car represents the french-automaker’s vision of a future on-demand mobility service that would be a genuine asset for any city, potentially even a recognizable design, representing its philosophy and commitment to providing sustainable, efficient mobility for everyone. Over and above this aspect, EZ-GO’s functional aspects give it a dual role in cities.


First, it simplifies travel for everyone, either as a stand-alone means of transport or as part of a multi-transport framework. door-to-door or to/from a station. It will be affordable because it is a shared service. Making trips easier for users will help reduce stress and provide new personal and professional choices. Leisure and work activities will take the place of driving for the users.


Next, the driverless car has a positive impact on cities. in addition to encouraging shared mobility that by nature helps improve traffic flow and reduces the number of parking places needed, it is respectful, silent and pollution-free, thanks to its zero-emission design, smart grid systems, and intelligent second-life battery use.


Its trapeze shape, its limited height and large glazed surfaces make it a genuine window onto the city, less obvious than a conventional bus or shuttle. Its shallow angle makes it easy for people to get in with a suitcase on wheels, a stroller, a wheelchair, or on crutches. Its benches are comfortable and made for lounging, without division between passengers; and its screens show useful information about the city that helps everyone, even those who don’t use the car.


All images (c) Renault

Contenido, por favor, y a ser posible memorable

La época de interrumpir al público con publicidad en Internet está al borde del abismo.

Óscar Peña de San Antonio, Chief Digital Officer & Analytics Director, at Grey España. Universidad de Barcelona Professor, tech writer and digital trends lover.


No es ningún secreto. La época de interrumpir al público con publicidad en Internet está al borde del abismo. Y esto lo saben de sobra las marcas de nueva creación que están agitando todas y cada una de las categorías que conocemos, desde la banca a los seguros, desde el turismo al transporte, desde gran consumo a las telecomunicaciones. No hay empresa o startup que no esté en estos momentos revolucionando los cimientos de la comunicación. Y son muchos los nombres que están liderando esta revolución silenciosa mientras otros duermen plácidamente: Hawkers, Airbnb, Vans, Uber, Norton, Marriot, Paypal, Redhat, Apple, LVMH o Chipotle, entre otros.

Esta revolución silenciosa en la que la publicidad pasa a un segundo estadio viene dada por varios factores que, en conjunto, representan una amenaza a los principios más convencionalistas del marketing. Veámoslos:


1. La manera en que el consumidor explora el contenido ha cambiado. Es tan selectivo, brillante y conspicuo que los algoritmos de búsqueda se están volviendo igual de inservibles que el posicionamiento de la publicidad display en medios digitales, donde el clic es considerado ya un mero “accidente”.

Se trata de algo parecido a lo que está ocurriendo con el momento cero de la verdad y la búsqueda de información, en el que Amazon, Alibaba, Etsy o eBay, entre otros, están ganando terreno a Google en relación a las búsquedas de producto (ver el excelente artículo de Daniel Colin James titulado ‘This is how Google will collapse’).


2. El consumidor está cansado del marketing de contenidos y de piezas irrelevantes. Busca historias que le inspiren y contenidos de utilidad que le ayuden a poner en orden sus necesidades, prioridades y decisiones que ha de tomar día tras día. Por ese motivo, en el listado de preferencias en la exploración de contenido, los buscadores tradicionales comienzan a resentirse por plataformas de contenido nicho que, mediante la creación de nuevos formatos de contenido acaparan la atención e, indirectamente, las interacciones: Netflix, HBO, Vimeo, VICE, pero también Udemy, Codeacademy, Khan Academy, Lynda, Coursera, entre otros.


3. El branded content continúa siendo efectivo, pero lo es aún más el contenido memorable, aquel que deja de lado hablar del producto y sus valores asociados para hablar del entorno cultural en el que se desenvuelven sus individuos, su target, sus tribus, con todos sus logros, sus aspiraciones, sus desafíos, sus inquietudes, sus temores, sus sueños… Contenido, en definitiva, que conecta y te agita. Contenido que te lleva a querer más, a seguir explorando.


4. El ecosistema de puntos de contacto se ha vuelto tóxico y lleno de información irrelevante. Si en los 90 hablábamos de televisión basura, ahora nuestros dispositivos se llenan de desperdicios que nos hacen perder el tiempo. Pero es el peaje de una red democratizada en la que cualquier individuo puede inyectar contenido al sistema. De una televisión de seis o siete canales a un medio de infinitos canales.

En ese panorama, ser diferenciador o relevante (o lo que muchos anunciantes insinúan cuando te piden algo viral, como si tuviéramos la receta de la felicidad), es difícil.

Se mezcla en un mismo repositorio el contenido que produces para la marca a la que representas con el de millones de personas que aspiran a tener el mismo impacto. Y tampoco vale que pagues por ello. No hay receta mágica.


5. Ni videos ni artículos. El comportamiento en el consumo de contenidos está cambiando. Un reciente informe de Hubspot refleja un cambio en los tipos de contenido sobre el que las personas prestan atención. Así mientras el contenido en social media y los videos continúan siendo la preferencia, los cursos online y las herramientas interactivas comienzan a arrastrar el interés hasta situarse inmediatamente por detrás en la cola, desplazando los artículos largos, los blogs y los podcast a las últimas posiciones de la lista.


Ante este escenario en el que las magnitudes son infames, las marcas están redefiniendo o complementando –según se mire- su estrategia en entornos digitales. Buscan un nuevo posicionamiento que simpatice con la dictadura de los motores y algoritmos de posicionamiento, pero que tenga la frescura y el ímpetu de transportarles a nuevos territorios afines y dejarles gozar de un rol determinante en ellos.


En la construcción de ese nuevo camino hay unas pocas marcas que arriesgan, exploran y experimentan con libertad. Son éstas las que están optando por construir el nuevo posicionamiento de manera artesanal:

a) produciendo contenido memorable que inspire y ayude a las personas a tomar decisiones (contenido que perdure en el tiempo y sea recurrente para los individuos en aquellos lugares y momentos en los que sea necesario);

b) alineándose con grandes plataformas de contenido mediante acuerdos directos y sin intermediarios que doten a su posicionamiento de credibilidad;

c) construyendo por sí mismos crisoles de interacción que atraigan el interés de la gente a lo largo del tiempo y no puntualmente.


Entre estos exploradores se encuentran algunas marcas que están marcando tendencia. Comparto con vosotros los mejores ejemplos que ilustran esta reflexión:



Airbnb #experiences

Si hace nueve años le hubieran explicado a Brian Chesky el impacto que tendría su marca a nivel mundial antes de cumplir su décimo aniversario, no se lo creería. Más allá de lograr ser la primera plataforma que permite a propietarios de viviendas privadas y viajeros ponerse en contacto y contratar temporalmente el espacio (192 países y más de dos millones de propiedades en línea), Airbnb es conocida por su estrategia de posicionamiento basada en el contenido. Hagan el ejercicio. Si buscan en Google existen más de 82 millones de resultados de búsqueda. Coca-Cola tiene algo más de 14 millones. Sobran las palabras.


Tres han sido los hitos de Airbnb en la construcción de su propia plataforma de contenidos:

– Apostar por las historias de personas de la comunidad de Airbnb con el objetivo de colocar a los propietarios de las viviendas como héroes de la plataforma.

– Entender que el espacio es lo de menos en el proceso de reserva de un viaje, sino las experiencias que los mismos propietarios pueden ofrecer como mismo complemento al viaje. Experiencias únicas, con sello personal, de oficio, irrepetibles.

– Convertir esas experiencias y esa vasta comunidad en contenido editorial de estilo propio compartible por medios convencionales. De hecho, la semana que viene Airbnb lanza de la mano de la editorial Hearst la publicación impresa Airbnbmag.

Vans #livingoffthewall


Para esta marca textil especializada en ropa vinculada a skaters y deportes extremos, la búsqueda de su propio territorio en la producción de documentales únicos que narran la historia de personas que ha encontrado rutas alternativas para alcanzar sus objetivos, caminos únicos que marcan la diferencia.

UBS #nobelstories


El sector bancario es, tradicionalmente, product centric. Centrado en la búsqueda de soluciones financieras, se encuentra alejado de las personas y su contexto. Por eso, para el banco suizo UBS, era necesario posicionar al banco entorno a las grandes reflexiones mundiales que definen nuestro mundo y su devenir, y las reflexiones próximas al día a día de las personas. De lo macro a lo micro. Pero entendió que la mejor manera de hacerlo no era mediante vídeos de expertos en inversión carentes de emociones, sino desde un enfoque centrado en personas.


Para responder a las inquietudes macro recurrió a conocidos premio Nobel en economía, con documentales que, acercándose a su día a día en familia, explicasen de manera didáctica, los conceptos más complejos y preocupantes de nuestro devenir mundial.


Para responder a las inquietudes micro recurrió a personajes famosos, restauradores, artistas, músicos. Ellos irían a responder y a inspirar sobre cuestiones o situaciones que nos colapsan en nuestra vida y para las que, normalmente, no hay libros ni guías: ¿cómo afrontar tu vida a los 60? ¿qué ocurriría si un gran porcentaje de la población viviese hasta los 100? ¿soy un buen padre? ¿qué le depara el futuro a mis hijos? ¿debería empezar mi propio negocio?

Redhat #opensourcestories


Para los geeks como yo, Redhat representa lo mejor del movimiento de código abierto. Redhat es la distribución de Linux orientada a empresas más conocida.


Su última jugada para mejorar su posición en el mercado respetando el espíritu de lo que representa, reside en la plataforma de contenidos creada por la marca ‘Open Source Stories’. Su último documental, ‘Road to A.I.’ es su máximo exponente. Documentales y píldoras de contenido de entre cuatro y veinte minutos de duración que cuentan el trabajo de aquellas personas y o proyectos que llevan el concepto de open source a su máximo exponente. Open Source como actitud.

Nowness #thebestinculture


Hablar de LVMH es hablar de un conglomerado francés de más de 60 marcas de lujo alrededor del mundo. Hablar de Nowness es hablar de una plataforma de contenidos inspiradores vinculados a la cultura, el lujo, viajes, moda, belleza y música, entre otros, creado por LVMH en 2010.


Una estrategia de posicionamiento y apropiación de territorios del grupo, guiado por la excelencia y el storytelling que genera más de un millón de visitas mensuales y millones de contenidos distribuidos y compartidos en social media.

Predicting the Top 9 Retail Trends for 2018

Now, retail is a relationship instead of a series of transactions. Technology is the great equalizer and the consumer is at the center of the new retail ecosystem.

The rise of e-commerce and customer experience has changed the face of retail. In its very early days, retail was built on a barter system. Now, retail is a relationship instead of a series of transactions. Technology is the great equalizer and the consumer is at the center of the new retail ecosystem.

Niall O’Gorman, ChannelSight’s CCO and co-founder, talks through some of the biggest trends we can expect in retail for 2018.

1. The marriage of Omnichannel and technology will drive sales


As a multichannel approach to retail, omnichannel provides an integrated shopping experience for the consumer. The idea is simple: give the customer a seamless retail experience between their channels, i.e. from their desktop to mobile phone to in-store experience.


For example, a shopper might start their transaction on desktop before later moving to mobile and then making the final purchase in-store. With omnichannel, the initial first touchpoint shouldn’t matter as the experience should be the same across every channel.


Of particular interest is Pointy, an Irish start-up which raised $6 million in funding in September 2017. Leveraging digital to drive in-store sales, Pointy’s tech links in with barcode scanners. Every time a product is scanned, Pointy automatically generates a web page for the item with real-time, localised product information. “The power of this is huge for smaller retailers which lack resources. This little widget is essentially a piece of plastic that plugs into the till and scanner.”

2. Personalisation will continue to grow


Personalisation is a tactic that small brands are using to go toe-to-toe with megaliths such as Amazon. The avenues for personalisation vary: it could be as simple as personalised packaging or as large as printed products with thousands of name variants, as Coca-Cola did with its Coke bottle campaign.


Digital personalisation is taking off too, with personalised video’s building momentum. One such example is Treepodia, a personalised video platform, that create real-time, shoppable video content. An example of some of Treepodia’s work is a video recipe for Cadbury – which worked to great effect.


“If you visit a site, you might see a slightly different version than someone else. The imagery, the messaging, and the promotional mechanics can be personalised around you.”


Likewise, websites are becoming increasingly personalised to users. Content is smarter with products and information changing to suit consumers’ past browsing habits. It could be as straightforward as providing similar products to once the user purchased or as complex as changing the call-to-actions relevant to the buyer’s purchase patterns.

3. Consumers are driving an information-economy – but rules will apply


Where websites were once linear, brands increasingly need to know who they are talking to – and how and when consumers want to be talked to. The array of pixels, cookies, and smart content/targeting allows for that – but there’s a caveat.


“Consumers now have the power,” Niall says. “They’re more in control. It’s going from the brand being king to the consumer being king. It’s the consumer choosing what level of contact, promotion, and content they want to be exposed to by brands, retailers, and organisations.”


For example, consumers can opt-in or out of your newsletter on a whim or they can choose to ignore or interact with your online advertising relative to how interesting it is to them. With so much choice for purchasing, consumers can afford to be flaky – someone else is probably selling the same thing for a comparative price.


With GDPR coming in in May 2018 this means that brands, publishers, and media companies will need to reconsider their opt-in processes and how consumer data is stored. Retargeting and hyper-targeted content are useful, but could be considered invasive – which in turn, reflects in the rise of AdBlock.


“There has to be balance between personalisation and privacy controls and data regulations,” Niall reasons. Brands need to accept that the path to purchase is no longer linear. Consumers are choosing how and where they convert.


To be truly effective, brands need to move away from the idea that social is strictly for selling. Social is a platform built on engagement and – if implemented correctly – has the potential to build long-lasting relationships with customers. It’s part of the reason why ‘Buy Now’ buttons are so powerful. When placed contextually and into a relevant step in the purchasing path, they can be the missing link for consumers to make the final step to conversion.

4. Voice search will gain wider proliferation


Voice search gained steam in 2017, but it’s still on the cusp of being mainstream. Where voice search on mobile is useful in the car or when you’re handsfree, the true benefit comes with IoT and smart homes.


It’s a simple equation that places retail at the tail-end. ChannelSight recently worked with Hi Mum! Said Dad to showcase the potential of the connected home in the FMCG space for FrieslandCampina. An app was created to link a fridge with reactive recipe suggestions.


It starts with a voice query: “Hey, Alexa, what’s in my fridge?”


Alexa and the smart fridge pair in real-time and the chatbot springs to life, asking if you’d like a recipe suggestion and later reading out the ingredients you’d need. You can then automatically make an order to replace the produce, down to payment and delivery.


Of course, as the technology progresses, the capabilities will go further: your oven may even begin to pre-heat based on when you want to make dinner.

5. The rise of conversational commerce


Chatbots bridge the gap between consumer and call centre by offering pre-programmed information on returns, pricing, size, stock, and promotions. In a recent project with Duracell, ChannelSight created a shoppable chatbot that was hosted on Facebook, giving consumers another conversion path.


Chatbots have the capabilities to look like a real person and speak naturally. Crucially, they can hand over to a human if necessary. “The benefit is clear,” Niall says. “The customer service team can spend longer and have richer conversations because they know that the virtual version of them can answer basic queries.”


It applies to omnichannel too, and the idea of conversational commerce. A consumer talk to a chatbot and then moves in-store. Their smartphone activates a beacon which pulls up the consumer’s details. The floor staff or salespeople will then see the important details of prior conversations and can take over from there.

6. Reality is virtual


The big drawback of virtual and augmented realities has been the slow adoption of its hardware and understanding of the differences of what each technology offers. For gaming and immersion, virtual reality works – but the headset can be a drawback for anyone wanting to passively experience something.


On a macro scale, augmented reality has a long way to go but it can translate in-store. If you’re walking into a store and you hold up your phone to find a certain item, your phone can activate to give you that information. Fashion and FMCG are also seeing the beginnings of AR adoption. Converse released the Sampler mobile app in 2016 where consumers could ‘try out’ the shoe on-foot by pointing their camera at their foot.


While the technology is still in development, expect a wider uptake in 2018.

7. The instore visit will be experiential


The format of the typical store is changing. Retail owners need to consider their shop’s role in the overall framework of how they attract, interact, and retain consumers.


Much consideration comes down to space and its utilisations. For example, Lidl’s AW17 fashion collection with Heidi Klum featured across small pop-up stores. As omnichannel grows, retailers will need to consider if they require a large physical store or if something more akin to a virtual showroom will suffice.


Make-up giant, Sephora, is known for its large storefront with rows of multi-brand product. However, in mid-2017 it launched its first Sephora Studio in downtown Boston. A much smaller affair, the studio aims to provide an intimate experience for consumers.


It’s all about finding the right balance for consumers and their shopping preferences. “There are so many different dynamics as to why someone might want to buy something in a given moment,” Niall says. “The worst thing you can do is try and sell something when someone doesn’t want to be sold to.”

8. The Internet of Things will change the face of delivery


When you think of advancements in delivery, you might think of drones. In practical terms, a sky full of drones is never going to happen. However, ‘ground drones’, or IoT-enabled mobile units, will likely be the future of delivery. Amazon has shown intent with the release of Amazon Key, a high-tech package delivery system. The idea is to create an Amazon-enabled delivery ecosystem: install the Amazon camera and lock on your home, and make your order.


The delivery person comes to your house, enters the code, and is given access to complete the delivery. In the future, it may even be a case that a drone could navigate its way to a consumer’s car for package delivery. A code would be sent to the customer’s phone for verification, they’d okay the delivery, and the car boot would pop open to accept the parcel.


The response, however, has been divisive: most Amazon Prime subscribers actually said  that they don’t want to buy the Amazon Key to grant access to their homes. “If you think of it from a volume perspective and you want something to be really effective,” he says, “a lot of these things [in the IoT space] are just show and tell: shiny objects and innovation for PR. But from that comes innovation that becomes mainstream. Many of these advances then become the go-to and are used in home systems and security.”


However, Amazon don’t yet have the monopoly they may have envisioned: in September 2017, Walmart announced a partnership with August Home, a smart lock start-up, that would allow a delivery person enter a customer’s order, deliver their groceries, and even put them away in their fridge. Since January, an Estonian start-up, Starship Technologies, has been using robots to deliver food to doorsteps in Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C. While the future may not see swarms of drones, robotic deliveries are a foregone conclusion.

9. Influencer transparency will be a big shift in retail for 2018


Influencer marketing has taken a beating in the last six months, having reached critical mass (and critical disapproval). However, from a brand perspective, influencer marketing is still laden with potential – especially in instances where the brand is new and its awareness doesn’t yet exist.


To see ROI, retailers will need to look at the mechanics of how influencer and brand co-exist. As Niall says, it’s all about accountability. “There have always been influencers,” Niall points out. “It’s not a new medium. Just like there have always been rockstars and musicians and actors.”


It’s not so much about big influencers anymore, but leveraging brand advocates. “It’s democratising what an influencer can be,” Niall says. “It’s not the few; it’s the many. An individual can be an influencer if they’ve got something to say that people are interested in.”


The results speak for themselves too. ChannelSight worked with drinks company, Tassimo, to mobilise the power of user-generated content. Product pages enriched with user-generated review videos saw a huge uplift and brought a:

  • 74% increase in add-to-basket conversion rate.
  • 161% increase in session duration.
  • 127% increase in pages per session.


User-generated content (and influencers) are great for providing social-proof, but brands still need to hold their influencers accountable as the digital landscape is in the midst of a reformation of metrics. It echoes in the biggest retail trend of all: the consumer is the heart of the new retail ecosystem – but that offers a window of opportunity for retailers who are willing to embrace it.

How come business is getting better?

That's partly a response to the pressures of modern life.

We are in the midst of what some have called “a wellbeing revolution”: natural and functional foods, alternative therapies, meditation and more. That’s partly a response to the pressures of modern life. One recent global survey of wellbeing found that only 1/6 of people alive today are thriving. 85% of us say we suffer from technostress. The responses are proportionate to the scale of problems like stress and obesity, and are far from niche. Drinking by young adults in the UK fell 40%. Meanwhile 30% of Americans are avoiding gluten. It’s also a whole new culture and mindset, pioneered by brands like Lululemon, ThriveGlobal, Wanderlust – one that combines kindness, deep relaxation, naturalness, gut health, authenticity, scientific tracking. Overall you could describe it as something like a global outbreak of niceness – despite (or in recent weeks against) the hard edged ‘new populism’ of Trump and Brexit era politics.


It was only a matter of time before this seeped into business culture. Initially it was enlightened businesses – stretched to the limit with stress and competing for the best talent – took wellbeing on board. But what started as a few HR reforms at companies like Google has started to change our view of what a business is, and what it is for. Brands and business leaders have started to realise that people increasingly look to business (not governments or civil society) to help us make progress. And conversely that acting on wellbeing, in the broad sense, is good for gaining trust and engagement.


The new wave of wellbeing is 80% social. That’s why this book calls it wellbeeing. Just like bees, we are a social species. We need much more than good food and exercise to thrive. We need fellowship and belonging, a stimulating environment, contact with nature, happy communities, a sense of purpose. We also benefit from social encouragement in our individual health efforts. Like the fun app StepJockey where people climbing the stairs at work combine into teams and track their progress in climbing real world mountains (or the equivalent height in steps).


Wellbeeing is where business comes in. If people are like bees, companies are the hives. Business used to labour under the mistaken idea that companies are like mechanisms, and all about financial results. But in the last few decades an alternative worldview moved in from innovative fringes of tech, eco and social progressive businesses. One that sees business fundamentally as a living human system. Its purpose being to produce wellbeing; including financial prosperity but also community, health, human progress.


My new book explores how that ‘better’ idea took hold first in ‘free range’ workplaces; with their human-centred architecture and processes, flexible working, mindfulness classes. It looks at the evidence that these changes aren’t just nice, they produce better work. And it explores how ‘better’ as an ethos has seeped from workplace culture into the strategy, products, transparency, community and purpose of leading companies like Unilever, Vodafone and Microsoft. To do these trends justice I’ve stepped away from endless rational explanation and instead it’s full of infographics, visual examples, fascinating facts and inspiring angles.

The book just opened for crowdfunding and you can view a video, sample pages and more details at



John Grant was the co-founder of the legendary 1990s London creative agency St Luke’s; as famous for its free-range office, ethics and employee co-ownership as for its creative work for clients like Body Shop, IKEA and the BBC. John has published six previous business books on brands, sustainability, innovation and globalisation. All written to celebrate fresh ideas, bold experiments, spirit and change. John has worked as an entrepreneur (notably in an eco workplace venture with Deborah Meaden). Has advised some lovely companies like innocent, Method/Ecover, Eden and Ecotricity – on how to grow bigger. And some big companies like IKEA, Samsung, Unilever and Pepsi on how to be more human, relevant and lovable. His adventures along the way have led to him work for Napster (the pioneer of illegal file sharing), the Catalan independence movement and even the UK government (‘ActOnCO2’). John has a lifelong passion for wellbeing. For instance, as a student he was ‘captain’ of the Cambridge University Yoga Society. And it may be testament to the trends in this new book that he has been able to carve out a career as a corporate hippy?

Passion for Sport

Compressport is passion for sport…

Passion for training, for extreme racing, for pushing the limits. Passion and dedication, which begins with respect for the sportsperson, the professional athlete who sets the limits and sportspeople of all ages who share their time between their family, their work and their passion for sport.


Since the launch of its first R2 leg sleeves in 2008, Compressport has been working every day with the same passion for sport.


Compressport is a 100% Swiss company which makes 100% European products. All its products are designed and manufactured in Europe and all the fibres and dyes they use are 100% European, plus they also comply with Oeko-Tex® Standard 100. Its products are the outcome of close partnership between medical researchers, professional athletes and specialist operators in anatomical compression for sport.

All its products are tested in the harshest conditions imaginable (in Abu Dhabi, Hawaii, Mont Blanc, the Sahara, etc.) which are the venue for the toughest races.


Its products include vein and muscular compression technology to help the athlete’s performance at different levels both during exercise and also afterwards. That is because compression improves performance, delays the onset of fatigue during exercise, avoids muscle tears and strains and helps with and maximises recovery between sessions since the compressive fabric in its products helps blood return from feet to heart, which considerably reduces the build up of toxins in the legs especially during continuous effort.


Its multi-product, multi-language and multi-country e-commerce platform offers athletes and sports fans in general a new purchasing channel for all Compressport products. It is also a new information channel about the firm’s products, new developments, releases, news about major sporting events the brand and its athletes take part in, as well as a way to find out about shops selling its products in all the countries where the brand is present.



The Challenge of conventional Market Research

‘traditional’ companies must adapt and change quickly if they want to continue being successful...

‘The Challenge of Traditional Research: New Data, Players and Methodologies’, by Jordi Ferrer, Snappy Research Co-Founder, was chosen as the best article by the Spanish magazine “Investigación y Marketing” (Research and Marketing) during the annual gala of AEDEMO (Spanish Association of Market Research, Marketing and Opinion).


The main challenge that market research companies need to face is that the very definition and scope of the market in which they operate has radically changed – and it will continue to rapidly change in the years to come.


Right now, ‘traditional research’ is competing in a ‘new’ market, which is a mix of many information types, data, technologies, and business models created by ‘outsiders’.  The result is that ‘traditional’ companies must adapt and change quickly if they want to continue being successful.


Components of the new market

This ‘new’ market and the market research environment is defined by three primary components:


New technology, data, and information

  • The emergence and widespread adoption of new technologies that allow for deep, systematic, and in most of the cases passive gathering of data and knowledge of consumers. At the same time they allow to interact with consumers in a much more effective and efficient way, in order to conduct research and collect information about their attitudes and behaviours.
  • These technologies and platforms include mobile tools, location-based technologies, cookies and other measurements of online behaviour, social networks, online communities, sensors, neuroscience, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and many others.  A large amount of this information is what we call Big Data.


New Consumers

  • With the adoption of digital, mobile, and ‘social’ technologies, the consumer generates and shares a large amount of information (accepting a more or less conscious trade-off between free access to content and privacy).
  • At the same time, the consumer’s uses & habits change, and so does the consumer’s way of ‘interacting’ with companies and brands.  Consumers expect that these interactions are adapted to the way they interact with content and leisure in their their day-to-day – that is, by utilising gamification within mobile-based systems, using apps that offer some benefit and a good experience when they share their opinions or behaviours with brands.  All of this, logically, means that traditional research companies must innovate and update their data collection tools and practices.
  • Finally, market research companies continue to analyse and segment consumers based only on their socio-demographic profile or their buying patterns, like they have been doing for the last fifty years. They have to take into account their social and digital dimension, not only to help brands with their digital strategies, but also with their overall strategies of marketing and communication.


New Needs

  • In such a competitive, constantly changing environment, brands also demand and adopt new strategies and information systems to help and support their decision making.
  • They will increasingly require faster data and information, in a more continuous, efficient and affordable way. They want to be able to predict, implement, and measure their tactical in-market actions, rather than conducting huge studies that explain weeks later what worked or didn’t work in their latest marketing campaign or product launch.
  • Brands need – and technology now permits – the consumer to “sit next to them” in order to advise their tactical, day-to-day decision-making.


In this context, the era of the traditional research process and value chain is coming to an end, now that technology allows – and clients are demanding and will continue to demand – a radical change.  The ‘traditional’ model will only work for some specific and increasingly seldom client needs.


Therefore, the ‘traditional’ model and its very long process – data collection, processing, analysis, and delivery/presentation so that brands can use the information in order to make decisions, take action, and measure the results afterwards – is fading away…

…and a new model with a much shorter (and, in many cases, real-time) cycle has emerged, where data collection, analysis, action, and ROI measuring is accomplished in a virtually instantaneous manner. One example is Real-Time Bidding (RTB) in online advertising.



Traditional companies, rather than resigning themselves to a secondary role and providing, in some cases, information to DMPs (Data Management Platforms), need to take a step forward in order to play a central role in this paradigm shift that is happening in the information environment.


This is not a simple challenge, since the needed culture and skills to compete in this new environment are not the same as the ones that were needed before. It calls for a strong culture of innovation, of lean start-up, a solid understanding of technology and advanced analytics… and, above all, the ability to think outside the box in order to review existing business models and build successful new ones.


The good news is that, despite all of this, research companies have a big advantage and an asset to work on and evolve. This asset is a deep knowledge of consumers, their attitudes and behaviours, and the culture and experience in the representativeness and statistical relevance of the information.


Starting from this solid foundation, if traditional research companies accept and adopt these new trends, they can return to playing a central, successful role in this paradigm shift.



Jordi Ferrer

Jordi is Co-Founder and Chairman of Snappy Research. Previously, he was the Global Director of TNS Digital and sat on the board of WPP and Kantar Digital. Before that, Jordi was the Global Director of Strategy, Mergers and Acquisitions of TNS and was a member of the group’s Executive Committee. He also gives classes at IESE and speaks at conferences all over the world about digital technology and its impact on consumers and the media. He is an economist with an MBA from IESE Business School and Executive Education at the London Business School.