March 12, 2016
The beautiful city of Austin was a lovely surprise. I already liked the city’s branding – “Stay Weird” – represented by the big horns.
It’s no accident that this festival, which was celebrating 30 years, started here and has now become a benchmark for innovation, trends and technology. And it combines everything, even President Obama. He was here yesterday with his charismatic style, and he recognizes that technology is dictating new rules to the American government.
My filter for choosing events on the first day was the brand universe and, maybe since it’s my territory, I was not surprised, to the point of saying “this has changed my life!”
But it’s just the first day. Of course, I gained something interesting from each of the panels.
First I went to see “Disruptive Philanthropy in a Digital World”, given by Jacquelline Fuller, head of Google.org, the philanthropic and social responsibility arm of Google. The coolest thing I learned was that before Google launched its IPO, the two guys promised that it would never be a traditional corporation and, to put this philosophy into practice, they determined that 1% of the company’s profits would be earmarked for creating a better world. This commitment with pre-allocated money makes this posture toward the market and investors clear, and materializes the commitment to a social impact.
When the interviewer asked her what the most important agenda was right now, her response was the Zika virus and refugees. That means that the mosquito has really made an impression!
The second talk was “Innovative Brands using Data-Driven Marketing”. The head of Digital Strategy at Johnson&Johnson uttered the words that summed up the discussion:
“Big data is not worth it if you don’t break into small data”.
Basically, I left with the same impression as when I entered. We have so much data, tons of information about the consumer, but we are still crawling when it comes to getting into people’s personal lives. How can brands actually generate interaction, content and sales in a relevant way for people? The answer is still open for discussion. Maybe next year we’ll have more clarity on this challenge.
Last but not least was the best one of the day: “Culture: the New Currency of Retail.”
The Toms brand was represented by the VP of Retail, Rick Badgley, who explained the business model: buy one, donate one. They call their customers “supporters”, because they all share the same vision on how to change the world. He said that we are leaving the era of “transactions”; the new measure of loyalty is engagement. The role of stores is to show the culture and how the brand comes to life: it’s more entertainment than it is a purchase. People are feeling the need to be connected, primarily with brands that help them to share a lifestyle. So, the brands that do that will be the most relevant ones! That’s all for today.[:]