Figaro Digital Summer Conference 2015 Round-up Part 3

by Jessica Ramesh

Highlights and insight from the Figaro Digital July 2015 Marketing Conference. In this instalment we hear how SapientNitro rebooted LYCRA and discover why consumers lie, even when it’s against their own best interests

LYCRA Moves You: Making the Invisible Visible – Victoria O’Callaghan, Experience Strategist at SapientNitro

How do you rediscover the meaning of a household brand?

What happens when your product is so successful that it becomes synonymous with an entire category? The danger, ironically, is that the brand becomes invisible. Awareness doesn’t always translate into purchase consideration and attempts by category-leaders to differentiate themselves can have the unintended consequence of benefitting competitors. 


This was the challenge LYCRA faced, explains Victoria O’Callaghan, Experience Strategist at SapientNitro. Born as Fibre K in 1958, the stretchy elastane fabric transformed a whole range of apparel categories. Chances are you’re wearing it right now. But as the market developed, substitute elastane products arrived on the scene. 

SapientNitro’s task was to help the brand and consumers rediscover that sense of meaning and make the invisible fibre visible again. The agency split its campaign into two phases. First it set about building an emotional connection to LYCRA. Then it highlighted the functional benefits. The organising idea, explains Victoria, was summed up in the slogan “LYCRA moves you”. 

Photographer Rankin was recruited to the campaign and his work emphasised the sense of freedom and movement associated with the brand. A content strategy was conceived to run across social and mobile channels. There were product launches, fashion and sports events and a focus on reinvigorating the point of sale experience. 

“We had some very good results,” says Victoria. In Brazil, where the market was tested, “there was a brilliantly strong impact on LYCRA being top-of-mind. But that was a given. This is LYCRA we’re talking about. The things that make me interested are the work we did which made LYCRAdistinctive. We saw strong brand attribution. It captured the imagination. It was relevant. Consumers felt it was believable and for me as a strategist that’s enormously important because there are so many brand messages out there that people don’t care about. We’ve shouted at people for too long to expect them to listen.” 

Social Listening for Scientists – Donal Phipps, Digital Analyst at GE Healthcare

How do you find and connect conversations with the real issues B2B customers face?

Producing better content in any industry begins with a sound understanding of customers and their concerns. But in niche B2B sectors where communication can be tricky to track, how do you start making sense of consumer conversations and sentiment?

That was the issue faced by GE Healthcare, who provide tools for scientists and researchers developing healthcare solutions. The exercise was made more challenging by the fact that GE’s customers weren’t posting in traditional social channels like Facebook, and tended not to be expressing a strong emotional connection to the work. Digital Analyst Donal Phipps explained how the organisation found its customers online and used social listening to refine and refocus its content.

GE partnered with Bottom-Line Analytics who helped locate relevant conversations. First step in the process was learning the language and terms customers used. No surprise there, perhaps. But, points out Donal, the phrase ‘protein purification’ appears in 744,000 search results and 48,000 conversations. How do you contextualise those references and connect them to real issues?

GE asked its own staff to list the terms they’d use to describe their work in protein purification. In order to apply some structure to those terms people were assigned a card-sorting exercise which asked them to cluster terms together in meaningful groupings. Software enabled content to be tracked and monitored for mentions of those terms. That information was shared with GE’s content authors, enabling them to see links between topics. “They can look at high level themes and topic information and figure out what the content schedule should look like for the coming year and where they should be publishing.”

Yo’ Mama’s a Liar! – Peter Shea

Look at what consumers do, not what they say they do

“Every single one of your mothers is a liar,” says retail expert Peter Shea. “None of you are angry that I’ve told you that. You know it’s true. You lie. I lie. We all lie. It’s part of the way we interact with each other.”

In marketing, however, there’s a not unreasonable assumption that when consumers are recruited to participate in surveys or focus groups, they’re telling the truth. Not only is that not necessarily so, but the reasons why people lie are, in themselves, revealing. 

By way of illustration Peter points to a 2009 study by economists Cesar Martinelli and Susan Wendy Parker, who wrote a paper looking at the behaviour of welfare applicants in Mexico. To qualify for welfare, applicants were asked a number of questions about their living conditions. These included whether they had a concrete floor, tap water, a gas boiler, a fridge, car, a video recorder and a number of other items. The level of welfare to be paid was partly based on how applicants met those criteria. Among the study’s findings was the fact that a small proportion of applicants over-reported: they claimed they had facilities they didn’t.

“Why would you do that?” asks Peter. “It’s completely contrary to the programme and it’s against the best interest of the applicant and their family. Thirty-nine per cent of applicants who didn’t have a toilet said they did. Thirty-two per cent of those who didn’t have tap water said they did. Twenty-five per cent who didn’t have concrete floors said they did. Each one of those statements takes a little bit of money out of the speakers’ own pocket.”

Social embarrassment plays a part in over-reporting. Interestingly, however, the reports’ authors note that education increased the probability of over-reporting. In other words, says Peter, “the people who are over-reporting are the ones who are best able to understand the risk to themselves in doing so. But the pressure of saying to someone on the application team that you don’t have a toilet is so overwhelming that you don’t do it.”

Context and circumstance, then, are important factors when eliciting consumers’ opinions. But if the information consumers provide isn’t always reliable, how can brands ensure they’re making sound business decisions? Plenty of technology exists to extract more accurate data, including eye-tracking, facial analysis and biometrics. But, says Peter, brands should be looking not at what consumers say they do, but what they actually do. For all our proclaimed preferences, nothing reveals more about our real interests than the way we search and how we respond to the results we’re presented. 

Driving Online Sales Via Social Proof – Jim Mason, Executive Director of Strategy & Insights at Razorfish UK

Instant access to product information has changed the nature of customer loyalty

It used to be that when shopping for items with which we didn’t have a strong emotional connection, we’d happily be persuaded by a big brand name: a recognisable logo served as a proxy for quality. But with the advent of showrooming, says Jim Mason at Razorfish, product information and user reviews are just a swipe away. As Itamar Simonson, author of Absolute Value puts it, “When quality was hard to predict, it made sense to stick with a familiar brand. But when you can quickly assess the quality of things, loyalty doesn’t help consumers as much.”


Enter social proof and validated value. Happy consumers recommending their favourite products are clearly important, but Jim highlights the retailers going the extra mile and enfolding social proof into their broader marketing strategies. US retailer Target has created its own AwesomeShop – an online retail outlet that consists only of the brand’s most Pinned and Tweeted about items. 

Social proofing can also be brought in-store, says Jim. “You used to know an item was popular if were fights in the aisle over products.” Now, he says, retailers are highlighting the products that people are talking about online by tagging them in-store or printing online reviews on display stands. He also suggests providing salespeople with access to online information that lets them help consumers on their journey towards purchase. Jim also points to some neat in-store innovations such as the Brazilian retailer whose clothes hangers display the number of Facebook Likes a product has received. There even exists a tag which updates automatically in real time with reviews from the web – a pointer, perhaps, to a future in which the distinction between online and offline marketing becomes more porous.

Read the Figaro Digital July 2015 Marketing Conference Round-up Part 1

Read the Figaro Digital July 2015 Marketing Conference Round-up Part 2

Read the Figaro Digital July 2015 Marketing Conference Round-up Part 4

Compiled by Jon Fortgang