Effective use of social media in travel retail

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Social media in travel retail.

This month we take a look at the role of social media in travel retail. We ask how brands and operators can leverage social media in travel retail. What is different versus local market SoMed? We look forward to sharing our thinking and encourage you to join the conversation on our LinkedIn feed.

Before diving into the detail, it is important to remember a key fact: it’s a big old world out there. There is no single platform with sufficient audience penetration and depth to cover the globe. For example, Meta-owned platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are not used in China, where Tencent’s WeChat is dominant. In the Middle East, Snapchat is the main platform in Saudi Arabia.

Given that some of these platforms are less than a decade old, it might come as a shock that they can be referred to as “classic” social media platforms. Meanwhile the inexorable rise of the new kid in town – Bytedance’s two platforms TikTok and Douyin – threatened to upend the fragmented global social media landscape but are still not without their own challenges in data transparency.

What about Travel Retail?

At CircleSquare we leverage social media to achieve three critical missions for the travel retail shopper:

  1. Audience identification and segmentation at the “insight” stage of campaigns.
  2. Social media analytics inform us where to buy and place media, right down to the most effective URL’s to reach target audiences. Something done in real-time.
  3. “Shareable moments” engineered into campaigns, both in-store and in online environments, to amplify and drive user generated content (UGC).

Insight and segmentation.

A new and innovative way to map customers is to use a global Twitter feed. People are likely to follow accounts who match their interests, and with 360m+ global users, Twitter serves as an excellent proxy to get an accurate understanding of a brands addressable audience.

The real value in audience mapping is however not to look at a brand’s followers only, but also at who else its audience is following. And in turn their followers too. This helps us generate with high confidence a view of the important segments within a brand or category audience.

To take a general example, see below mapping for whisky lovers in the US and Europe.

Once the mapping is done, we generate segments and look at differences and commonalities. We are able to see who the influencers are, the average ages, gender, preponderance of device used (iOS vs android) and, just as importantly, which domains they have shared or referenced.

Here’s a snapshot of one of the biggest segments in the whisky study: Spanish Millennial Professionals.

Analytics and media buy.

A detailed segmentation allows us to book media directly onto specific domains and URLs our audiences have visited or shared to support awareness-driven campaigns. But for travel retail it is never that simple.

Once a campaign moves beyond general awareness, we run into the challenges of accuracy and above all media spend efficiency. Something we covered in detail in one of our recent articles.

As with so much in travel retail, we typically take a counter-intuitive approach. We match our segmentation against first-party data or specialist data partners to generate detailed media plans targeted at traveling audiences on a destination by destination basis. There is however no single platform or provider who can touch global audiences; the secret is to manually stitch together multiple data sets and platforms to create a synthetic “global view” for campaigns.

Shareable moments.

As much as travel retail has digitalised, the fundamentals of the channel remain predominantly offline. At best, travel retail e-com accounts for 20% of the highest performing destination’s revenue, with at least of 80% of global TR sales dependent on offline completion.

It is therefore important, once audiences are defined and engaged on social media, to focus on real life interactions, which often take the form of shareable moments.

“Shareable moments in a customer journey can come in many forms,” says CircleSquare APAC Creative Director Matt Penrose, “but to be most effective they should be tailored to the narrative of the campaign, possibly location specific to add some sense of place or exclusivity. Finally (and arguably most importantly) relevant and compelling enough to your target customers that they want to share it with their own audience to gain status amongst their peers.”

As social media has evolved, so have the demands of its users, always on the lookout for the next content creation opportunity. No longer can brands rely on a ‘photo moment’ to do the job. It is essential that the entire design of an experience should be visually striking and exciting enough that it demands to be shared from every angle. A great example of this is from DFS City of Dreams in Macau earlier this year.

‘The Vault’ (below) delivered strong visual impact, embodying the campaign concept in a larger than life way to attract customers and drive engagement.

Conversely, in the digital realm brands are providing customers with the opportunity to embellish their online personas through virtual experiences.

Within our recent NARSNONSTOP virtual activation users could create their own avatars, personalise them using NARS cosmetics products and then share their creations via social media to invite friends media to join them.

Finally, the blend of physical and digital worlds can provide the most innovative sharable moments. We worked with La Prairie to develop an engaging digital layer for their latest White Caviar activation in Hainan that added new dimensions to their physical activation through an augmented reality dancing sculpture.

This same digital sculpture was then used to create a unique NFT digital art piece for each customer which could be presented in their own digital gallery.

We would love your feedback and to initiate a dialogue with you.

Circle Square brand device

Moyosa Agency: Development agency

Circle-Square Square Agency: Creative / UI & UX Agency

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