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SXSWi 2018’s Big Moments Driven by Insights & Behavior

Thu, 04/12/2018

Four key consumer insights from SXSWi 2018 to take into consideration today

By Carol Issa, VP, Digital Strategy, MSL, New York

SXSWi 2018 showcased advancements in technologies that have been emerging for the past few years:
  • AI continues to make computer interaction more human than ever, with voice- and camera-enabled assistants that can understand our natural language and the physical world
  • AR/VR continues to create immersive experiences in gaming, health, and beyond
  • Cryptocurrencies have promised to re-introduce trust to e-commerce, improve ad buying, and drive social change

While these technologies were omnipresent at SXSWi, the novelty of them has started to wear thin and now they’re facing more considered applications and challenges. Instead, the biggest “aha!” moments were driven by consumer insights and behaviors. SXSWi 2018 put the consumer’s needs first – and then thought about how tech and brands can address them.

Four key consumer insights to take into consideration today:

1. Online-to-Offline

Consumers are overloaded by information and looking for ways to deal with the digital age. Digital detoxing, purposeful privacy settings, and careful curation are all behaviors that have emerged to strike more of a balance between the digital and the physical worlds. Human connections were a big focus at SXSW, and brands are using technology to enable that online-to-offline bridge that consumers are craving.

  • Bumble hosted an “Empowering Connections” series of speakers and events that focused on building relationships for friendships, romance, and businesses

2. Social WE-dia

Social media is shifting from self-promotion to collaboration. Both influencers and everyday users have gone from “ME ME ME” to “let’s create something together.” This can be seen from small platform updates that promote interactivity and connection (Instagram Stories polls sticker, Facebook Live videos) to huge movements that began in social (#metoo, #marchforourlives). This change is largely driven by Gen-Z’s desire to make an impact, which is bigger when done together. Even if brands aren’t targeting Gen-Z, the way other generations use social is also influenced by Gen-Z’s behavior.

  • Dropbox promoted their new suite of products designed to enable better collaboration by pairing artists with different styles together to make three murals at SXSW

3. Influencers as Retailers

As trust in institution and corporations continues to decline, consumers need a human connection with brands in order to buy into them. Even as AI promises to create more effective and efficient advertising, there is still an element of trust and human authenticity that only influencers can deliver. Influencers are a careful balance between a real person that shares their life, a brand with a carefully curated image, and a retailer that recommends product – a trifecta that drives sales when wielded correctly.

  • Poshmark, which started as a marketplace for influencers to sell their own clothes from their closets, started enabling their most influential sellers to buy wholesale from brands and re-sell to their followers directly – making influencers the retailers in a very literal sense

4. Data-Driven Diversity

Diversity and inclusion has been a consistent theme at SXSW – and this year was no different. While consumers and influencers alike have been pressuring brands for years to represent their diverse communities, the movement is now armed with data. ShopStyle released a study at SXSWi that analyzed the impact of diverse influencers on sales and found that plus-size and POC influencers actually out-perform “mainstream” talent with 43-100% higher conversion.

  • Revolve recently became the center of unwanted attention when the hashtag #RevolveSoWhite started trending, referring to the lack of diversity in their high-profile influencer trips. Tens of high-profile influencers and hundreds of commenters have flooded their feeds and mentions to pressure the brand to improve the diversity and inclusion in their marketing.

Carol IssaCarol Issa is a VP of Digital Strategy in the consumer practice of MSL, applying digital insights and analytics to campaign strategy, creative execution, and success measurement.



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