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As the Digital Marketing Strategy module draws to a close….

The saying goes…..

Over the last 7 weeks, we have covered a wide range of interesting topics.  Two that stand out for me and which I will use within my working life are:

  • The power of storytelling and the use of native advertising. I write case studies as part of my job role and using this form of writing/advertising will support and develop them.   
  • Digital culture, the changing customer journey and how consumers are making purchasing decisions through a range of blended online and offline channels (Omnichannel).  In my current job role, this will help me to evaluate how potential clients are purchasing and therefore ensure that we use the correct channels to reach them.
Digital Customer Journey

Self-assessment

During week one, I completed a self-test, where I reflected on my digital literacy skills. Subsequently in week seven, I revisited this activity and re-evaluated scores.  The topics which I found most interesting and I feel most confident about, scored well, whereas in areas where the score was lower, my development will continue.  I have discovered that I am a lurker in the digital environment, tending to read articles, but rarely commenting or posting. 

I have found critical blog writing challenging and this is something I plan to continue developing.  Reading fellow student blogs has helped me to review my own style of writing and I have found comments left by fellow students on my posts, to be useful and informative.  Whilst commenting on other students’ blogs, my confidence has developed in this area. Within my comments, I have tried to be critical and add value by adding links and asking questions to stimulate discussion.

Contributing to various discussions during the module, has helped to consolidate and clarify my thoughts on those topics, helping me to further my knowledge and assist with my understanding. 

One of my blog posts was written about in-depth personal profiling and the growth of behavioural targeted marketing.  I found this topic interesting but concerning, particularly the filter bubble.  The example of Cambridge Analytica highlighted the importance of data being kept and manged securely and that companies do have a social and moral responsibility to keep clients’ data safe.  Having this knowledge, will allow me to take a more balanced view of the information that I retrieve from the internet.

My other blog post covered the rise of Augmented Reality (AR) within marketing, the opportunities that it creates and also challenges this technology faces. I found this topic interesting and will watch with interest how AR develops over the coming years.

What I shall take away…..

The study of the changing digital marketing landscape will allow me to develop and adapt to change as it happens over the next few years. I have gained much knowledge around digital marketing and the ethical considerations that need to be observed. 

I have developed my critical thinking and writing skills over the past 7 weeks and I feel that this will help me in my dissertation.  

The importance of building your own personal brand on social media and why you need to have a stand out profile, which will attract potential future employers.   I will continue to develop my professional profiles and update them regularly.

In a rapidly changing digital environment, the next few years are going to be exciting.

Word count – 544

Links to 4 Blog responses

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How Augmented is your Reality?

L’Oreal’s augmented reality acquisition helps with online brand experience (2019)

The future is really here and it all seems a bit like science fiction. You can now look through your phone and things appear in the room that aren’t actually there!

Marketers are using Augmented Reality (AR) to make their products more accessible, more fun and more interactive. For example, when you look at the Volvo brochure through your digital device, you can see the car in 3D above the brochure and turn it around to view it from all angles.

AR is an interactive experience in a real world environment, where objects in the real world are enhanced by computer generated images. It became accessible to the masses with the rise of the smart phone in 2009 (PWC, 2018).

Rinki, 2019

AR can capture people’s attention for over 85 seconds, increasing interaction rates by 20% and improve click-through rates to purchase by 33% (The Drum 2018 report).

Marketing opportunities using AR

AR opens up a whole new way for marketers to engage with consumers to provide a personalised, memorable and localised shopping experience both online and in store (Borst, 2019).

AR is used to enhance and personalise the online home shopping experience.  Ikea use an AR app, which allows people to see how a piece of furniture would look and fit into their home.  Dulux have an app which changes your wall colour, so that you can see how the colour will look before purchase. Makeup and hair company, L’Oréal, use AR within its website, to show people how different makeup and hair colour will look on them.

Tibler, 2018

Forsey (2018) noted that 75% of consumers expect retailers to offer them an AR experience. Pantano, Priporas and Dennis (2018) agree, commenting that there has been a shift from traditional store shopping to shopping in a smart environment, either online or in store.

In a recent survey, 63% of consumers felt that AR in marketing added value to their shopping experience.  If AR was available online, 22% said they would be less likely to visit traditional retail stores, whilst 33% said they would prefer to shop online (Saleem, 2019).

However, despite these statistics, AR is becoming more popular in retail stores.  Consumers can use AR to scan signs getting product information, stock availability, customer reviews and pricing.  Virtual fitting rooms, in store, allow customers to see what the clothes look like on, without having to actually change. MAC stores now have AR virtual try on mirrors in store, where you can virtually try on makeup colours and products.

The augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) market amounted to a forecast of US $18.8 billion in 2020 (Statista, 2019) and according to Mbryonic (2019), this is predicted to grow to US $35.22 billion by 2022.

AR is a great way to build brand awareness allowing the product to stand out.  However, it is important to ensure that it is not just used as a gimmick and that it adds real value to the customer’s shopping experience. 

Challenges marketers face with AR

Return on investment (ROI) is hard to measure in AR. Research carried out in 2018, showed that 42% of marketers find it challenging to get the financial backing from their managers, as it is difficult to work out the anticipated ROI on AR advertising (BCG, 2018). However, Corps (2017) believes that the real-time dynamics of AR will enable retailers to quickly see the ROI.

Some marketers feel that the market place has not yet reached maturity and therefore they will be unable to reach their full target audience.  In addition, it can be hard to come up with a campaign that will have a long lasting impression on consumers.  There is also an opinion that AR is expensive and too large an investment for many companies.

There are also challenges around cyber security. Information is collected about people who use AR apps, which allows them to interact with the app content.  Marketers can then use this information.  However, as AR requires access to more data points, this can provide hackers with consumers’ personal information (Matthews, 2019).

Although AR has developed hugely over the past few years, the cost of manufacturing this technology on a mass scale is expensive and labour intensive.  Consumer technology, eg smartphones, also have limitations and are not advanced enough for AR to be fully integrated into daily life.

Martin, 2018

So what does the future hold for AR…

5G will give more stability to the AR environment, allowing it to develop further for marketing purposes. 

AR has steadily risen through the Gartner Hype Cycle and is no longer considered an emerging technology.  However, Gartner predict that stand alone AR, having dropped into the Trough of Disillusionment, will remain there and interest will reduce over the next 5-10 years. 

Daniel (2019), predict that mixed reality (MR), a combination of AR and virtual reality (VR) will quickly overtake AR to become the preferred technology of the future, as it incorporates virtual elements better with the real world environment. However, Mangles (2018) believes that AR could start to become adopted and develop market place penetration within 10 years but only with additional venture capital invested.

So is Augmented Reality really the future of marketing? Or is it just another technology left wallowing in the Trough of Disillusionment before disappearing, never to be heard of again?

Word Count – 880

References

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Are these Boots following me…?

Do you ever view an item and/or put it in your online basket but don’t actually buy it? Do you then find that those boots or shoes then start to pop up everywhere, Google, Facebook, messenger?  It almost feels like they are stalking you.  Your browsing history is no longer personal or private; it’s being used to personalise your online shopping experience, the thought being, that if you see it enough, you’ll buy it.  Well…. that works sometimes; other times it is just annoying.

I bought these boots and returned them as they were a poor fit…. But I’m still getting adverts for them weeks later…!

A key ethical dilemma….

In today’s digital environment, marketers have access to very in-depth personal profiling of the public, allowing for extremely targeted marketing.  However, the question is, is the way that this information is gathered ethical and are the public aware of the way it is collected?  

How personal, is personal?

The web is becoming more and more personalised.  Filter bubbles are created by machine learning algorithms, which produce behavioural profiles based on a person’s previous browsing history, purchases and search terms. This allows marketers to target specific people that they believe are truly interested in their product and are, therefore, likely to buy it.  

The use of targeted behavioural marketing is popular and can increase click through rates by up to 670% (Yan, Liu, Wang, Zhang, Jiang and Chen, 2009), providing a better online experience for the consumer.  There are, however, ethical issues surrounding this type of marketing.  People are starting to feel violated about their data being used and sold in order to make money for someone else.  Google, Facebook and YouTube all exploit their users and their data, to generate income (Fuchs, 2011).

Iabuk , 2012

Research carried out by Dehling, Zhang and Sunyaev (2019), showed that online behavioural advertising was seen as time saving and helped consumers to get the best deals with minimum effort.  They noted that consumers want adverts that add value, but they don’t want ones that become too personal and seeing the same adverts repeatedly is annoying.  When the profiling becomes too accurate, it can be unnerving, a little bit creepy and too personal.  

A concern is that consumer awareness of online behavioural advertising is low and people are unaware about how their online behaviour is being tracked and recorded.  In addition, 68% of consumers don’t like targeted advertising, as they dislike their online behaviour being monitored and tracked (Dehling et al, 2019).  This can lead to consumers avoiding websites and spreading undesirable comments.

Some consumers have a positive attitude towards personalisation and relevant messages. Ariker, Díaz, Heller and Perrey’s (2015) state that personalisation can increase return on investment by 5-8 times and can lift sales by over 10%.  However, research carried out by Binns (2016) showed that consumers were less likely to purchase, when they were given a recommendation based on previous buying behaviour.

Nichols (2018) discovered that smart phones idly listen to conversations and that this information is used by websites to push appropriate adverts to you.  Scary or what!   

How might it be resolved?

Due to the negativity around behavioural profiling, new ways to engage with consumers are emerging. We need to give consumers greater involvement in the types of marketing that they receive and allow them to edit and remove information held about them.

A way to increase the response rate in online digital marketing is to use self-authored interest (SAI) profiles, these are likely to give better results than using a behavioural targeting model (Binns, 2016).   Giving consumers the power to control their profiles and marketing channels they are marketed to will increase their responses to digital campaigns.  Companies such as Citizen Me are being set up to give greater power to consumers.  Consumers can now create profiles, which they can sell, making themselves money.  The advantage of this is that they have full control over what traits they want to share. The disadvantage is that they may not be completely aware of their buying behaviours and therefore the profile will be inaccurate or incomplete. Inderscience (2016) note that if consumers taking ownership of their profiles, the adverts they receive should be more appropriate and accurate.

Over the past 10 years, marketers have been using consumers’ personal data without consent and now according to Cochrand (2018), marketers need to regain the trust of consumers.  This along with transparency and consent are important factors to forming a long-lasting brand relationship.

To overcome this ethical issue, as marketers, we need to ensure that:

  • We maintain consistency and engage in meaningful communications with our consumers.
  • Consumers are fully aware of how their data is being collected and used.
  • Consumers are in full control of their data, what they share and are able to edit their privacy settings easily.
  • Consumers understand how the marketing works and what benefits they will receive.
  • Consumers have the ability to say NO at any point.

There will always be challenges with targeted marketing, however behaving in an ethical way will ensure that consumers engage with your brand and remain loyal customers.

Word count: 840

References

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The Contemporary Digital Environment… IT, OT, IoT and all things tech….

A Review of the Contemporary Digital Environment

Webranded, 2019

The planet is currently going through a digital revolution, with new digital technologies completely disrupting our lives and altering the way we live and work. Modern technology is being used to adjust, shape and enhance the quality of our lives, allowing us to adapt to the fast changing digital environment in which we live.

In business, the exponential growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) has caused a convergence of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT), merging the digital and the physical world (Venado Technologies, 2020).  OT includes the physical infrastructure within companies operating in sectors such as manufacturing, utilities and healthcare/medical.  The increased use of digital sensors to these complex machines and connectivity to a shared network, allows businesses to function and operate in a more efficient and effective way.

Is this a positive thing? Well, yes and no…. It allows companies to streamline their operating systems and with a movement towards Artificial Intelligence (AI) in this arena, there will undoubtedly be an impact on jobs and the roles that they fulfil. Chui (2017) explains that in a survey carried out, potentially 45% of all current jobs can be automated using current technology.  However, Manyika (2017) notes that while this will cause the loss of many jobs, new ones are bring created in areas that we previously didn’t know existed. In addition, the increase in digital devices within the IoT has increased the likely hood of security breaches and cyber-attacks.  Companies are finding that securing their digital environment has become increasing difficult, but more important than ever before.

Obsessive use of the internet, thriveglobal.com

The contemporary digital environment and the introduction of Web 2.0 has allowed for a much more immersive experience for consumers. It allows people to interact, engage, collaborate and share information online, using social media sites, blogging, video sharing sites, web applications (apps), chat rooms and wikis (Allen, 2013).

The advantage of this for marketers is that consumers are engaging more in the advertising of products and are becoming prosumers and advocates for the brands. The increased use of the internet has caused consumers to react and engage differently with products creating a completely new buying experience.  This makes consumers much more powerful as they can show their pleasure or displeasure instantly through online forums and social media (Cova & Cova, 2012). The positive side of this, is that consumers have more control and can recommend improvements and it ensures that companies offer the best products and services possible to avoid negative feedback.  All this interaction allows the company to grow and become more profitable.  

Conversely, a negative aspect of this is trolling and false feedback, this can impact the company’s profits and revenue.  In addition to this, some consumers feel that they are being exploited for their contributions to the online groups and social sites.  For example, Facebook capitalises in the input from others and the data it has collected, by charging companies to advertise on their social platforms to target audiences (Gilbert, 2018). 

The digital environment includes computers, mobile devices, integrated electronically-based systems, which have become part of everyday life.  Homes are increasing being digitalised with the use of smart home technology, which can be controlled remotely using a smartphone. 

Another aspect of the digital environment is social media, which has grown vastly over the last decade (see chart below). 

According to the Marketing Communications Report 2019, there has been a shift in how we communicate.  Voice and SMS have decreased, while social platforms such as Messenger and WhatsApp have increased substantially.  You hear about people interacting together on their phones when they are on the same room… crazy or what!  This means that people are becoming more confident in communicating through their devices than actually having a conversation.

Social media has now become an obsession for many people.  Hymas (2018) stated that research showed people spend on average 24 hours per week on the internet and check their phone on average every 12 minutes, whilst 40% of adults check their phones within 5 minutes of waking up.  These staggering statistics must surely have an impact on families and social groups. Lyons (2019) refers to studies which were conducted on the impact of social media.  They show that social media has a detrimental effect on communication and interpersonal relationships within families, but ironically, it is also helpful in keeping families connected over long distances adding security to the family unit. Ahmad (2016) concurs, stating that whilst it can increase connectivity, provides education and builds communities online, social media can cause isolation, relationship issues with people and become addictive. The video below by Braincraft gives some interesting insights.

Braincraft, 2014

The contemporary digital environment is continuing to rapidly change, bringing new and exciting opportunities along with even more challenges.  The question is… What does the future hold… Is the digital environment taking over and are we truly in danger of becoming a society that doesn’t communicate directly, but uses technology to interact with each other?

Word count – 815

References

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My marketing adventure continues……with Digital Marketing Strategy…

Well hello there… this is the second blog style module in my Marketing MSc.

Gosh, what a difference a year makes! Since my last blog post I have lost 3 stone, have significantly developed my skills in marketing and have completed 5 more modules in my Marketing MSc.   A brief introduction about me, I live in Somerset with my husband, two teenagers, our cat, Colin and our dog, Daffodil.

My son is completing A levels in June while I’m writing my dissertation… that will be fun! He is hoping to head to university in September, so the autumn was filled with open days and the UCAS application. Sigh of relief when the application was submitted…. roll on January and we now have a round of interviews to attend, so we are heading back out to the universities again! My daughter is in year 10, so no exams this year…. and my long suffering husband does shift work and generally tries to keep a low profile!!

Back to the module ……

Reviewing the digital visitors and residences framework, I think that I fit somewhere in the middle erring more to the residence side. Digital visitors tend to use the internet for a purpose, but don’t tend to use social media or share/store personal details online. Whereas digital residences are the complete opposite. Most people will sit somewhere along the scale.

Digital visitor and residents scale
White and Le Cornu (2011)

 Digital residence traits that I have:

  • I check my social media profile every day – Facebook.
  • I use LinkedIn for work only.
  • I use social platforms such as Messenger and WhatsApp to talk to friends.
  • I bank online and regular shop online
  • I go online for a number of reasons.

Digital visitor traits that I have:

  • I never post my opinion on blogs and rarely post on social media.
  • I look at relevant websites but I don’t surf the internet.
  • At work, I use on the internet for a specific purpose.  

I also completed the self test quiz to see how I feel about online communities and managing my online profile. Results below…

My self test results week 1

The scores were all out of 5, I felt more confident with some areas and less in others. Over the next 7 weeks, I hope to improve in these areas and shall report back in the final blog of my progress.

See you later and thanks for reading.

Its the end of my Digital Business Models journey…..

Having never written a blog before, the setup of this module was completely new to me.  I have hugely enjoyed it and have found the subject content extremely interesting.  Some of the highlights for me were:

Image source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

These topics grabbed my attention and the discussions around them added value and enjoyment to the subject matter.  It was interesting to hear of other people’s experiences and thoughts on each area, particularly how they thought things would develop in the future.  How other students interpreted questions and activities, developed my knowledge of the subject and reading other people’s comments, supported my understanding of activities.  I feel that I have gained a valuable incite into the future of technology and how businesses are reinventing themselves to keep up in this fast paced environment.

Reflection

Critical thinking is an area that I find difficult and something that I will continue to develop into the future.  Reading other blogs and seeing their style of writing, has supported me in this area.

When commenting on other blogs, I have tried to add value by finding additional information that I could add to their post to deepen and support their understanding of the topic.  Initially, my comments were more descriptive (Journalists and Civil Engineers), I then started to be more reflective (Amazon and HMV). Within later posts, I have tried to become more critical (Apple and Monzo).

Image source 1, Image source 2, Image source 3.

Another area that has helped to develop my learning, are comments made on my blog posts.  The comments on my first post were mainly supportive, reflecting on what had been written without much new content added (Teaching blog).  My second blog had fewer comments but some were more reflective (M.A.C. blog), however I think I could have developed that discussion further .  My third blog received comments which were much more critical and added a new dimension to the discussion, which enabled me to reflect and respond, creating a great dialog (Fitbit Blog).

During this module, I have endeavoured to become more critical in my own writing and to take on board comments and links that have added to my posts, enhancing my learning of the topic.

Personal development and future learning

The skills I have learnt in blog writing have helped me to develop my writing in this style and this I can use in my current job role and into the future. I feel empowered to try new digital and social media platforms at work and now feel confident that I can create the appropriate material. 

I plan to continue with my professional development by attending additional training and workshops, thereby increasing my skills and my ability in this style of writing.

I feel that I have developed my critical thinking skills, which will be extremely helpful moving into the next modules and when completing my dissertation. I can also apply these skills to other aspects of my life.

And finally…

It’s been a great module!  This is the end of a chapter, but not the end of the adventure.  Next is Marketing Strategies, so let the journey continue….

Word count – 528

Links to 4 required posts

Fitbit’s Digital Journey through the Hype cycle

Image: Draper (2018)

Many of us have a Fitbit and use it to monitor our steps, health, miles walked and heart rate. They have evolved from a black band, which counted steps, heart rate and exercise levels, to a smartwatch which can do so much more.  Introducing the Fitbit Versa, their new smartwatch.

Fitbit has transformed the wearable fitness technology space and has created a range of devices designed for daily wear.  It has achieved overnight success and rocketing sales, but what is the strategic digital business model behind the product and can it evolve enough to withstand the tough competition in the fast paced arena of smartwatches?

Disruptive innovation….

Inspired by the Nintendo Wii and its motion sensor technology, two software engineers James Park and Eric Friedman caused disruptive innovation within the fitness tracker industry by inventing the Fitbit in 2007.

Fitbit successfully bridged ‘the Chasm’ on the technology adoption cycle and sold 2000 pre-orders on its first day and hasn’t looked back.  According to Waters (2015), this instant uptake of products was caused by two main factors, the increase in obese people and the number of people who are interested in monitoring their own health.

According to the Gartner Hype cycle, products follow 5 key stages in their life cycle. Below outlines Fitbit’s journey through these stages.

Image: The Hype cycle

1. On the rise…

In order to achieve success, Fitbit used SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud) to form its digital business model as part of its Business Model Canvas.

Social – Social media including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Blog posts are used to communicate with both existing and new potential customers.

Mobile – The Fitbit app is designed to monitor your progress, is fully digitalised and can be accessed on a laptop as well as a phone and tablet. The website has responsive layouts so that it can be accessed across a wide range of devices and platforms, giving people greater flexibility on how to engage with the site. Additional services offered are Fitbit premium, Fitbit health, Fitbit care, Fitbit pay and Fitbit coach.

Fitbit products are available in physical stores and can also be bought online through the Fitbit website or other various online stores such as Amazon. 

Analytics – The Fitbit devices are designed to sync with the mobile app and dashboard.  This web based platform provides a wide range of analytics on your health, fitness and progress.  You can interact through the app with friends, on virtual walks and challenges, whilst earning badges.

Cloud – Data is collected and stored in the cloud regularly, monitoring and recording data for each person. This information can be then used to support your fitness journey and also for marketing purposes.

According to Agomuoh (2014), Fitbit strengthened its digital business strategy, when the 2014 campaign ‘Find your Fit’ was launched. By using the metrics available from its customer base, Fitbit was able to identify the different aged user groups and their reasons for engaging with the product.  Product advertising campaigns, through relevant platforms, were then carried out to match the gender, age and fitness level of the targeted audience.

2. At the top…

Fitbit has cleverly placed itself as the leading expert in fitness trackers and is unrivalled in its current technology.  In a report by Statista (2019), the value of Fitbit rose from 5 million to 1.8 billion US dollars between 2010 and 2015.  55.2 million Fitbits were sold globally in 2016 and it is expected that in 2022, 105 million will be sold worldwide.

Fitbit revenue 2010 – 2017
Image: Statista, 2019

3. Falling into the trough…

Yet with the increasing popularity of the Apple watch, sales have been decreasing at a steady rate since 2017.  In Fitbit’s 2nd Quarter review of 2018 (Fitbit, 2019), figures showed a drop in sales of 24% year on year.  However, Fitbit believes that this quarter is the trough in decreasing sales, but that tracker sales will start to increase again. 

Peckham (2019) supports this by commenting that the company is going from strength to strength. However contrary to this, Hemple (2018) noted that the total demand for Fitbit fitness trackers in the mid-market is low, as people are looking for cheaper options.

4. Climbing the slope… recreation of the digital business model.

Fitbit realised that in order to survive they need to change their business model and “become a platform not just a product” (Marshall, 2016). So in April 2018, Fitbit announced a partnership with Google, planning to “innovate and transform the future of digital health and wearables, leading to positive health outcomes for people around the world” (Dominic, 2018).  It will sync with Google’s new cloud health interface, connecting users’ data with their electronic medical files, giving medical professionals greater ability in monitoring health conditions. With this in mind, Antin (2018) remarks that fitness trackers are now climbing the slope.

Having said all this, will this new digital business model be enough to keep Fitbit going?  Chauhan (2018) warns against Fitbit pinning its hopes on this market, as there are other products successfully competing in the healthcare sector.  Bromley (2019) commented the Fitbit could disappear before the end of 2019, if it fails to keep up with the market competition.

5. Entering the plateau…

Although Fitbit are not there yet, my thoughts are that wearables will continue to evolve and will eventually enter the plateau to become part of everyday living. According to Crucius (2018), wearables are here to stay and that the future looks bright. 

Word count: 876

References

  • Agomuoh, F. (2014). Fitbit Dominates The Wearables Market, But Can It Survive The Coming Onslaught Of Smart Watches?. Retrieved February 16, 2019 from ://www.ibtimes.com/fitbit-dominates-wearables-market-can-it-survive-coming-onslaught-smart-watches-1725780
  • Crucius, S. (2018). Wearable Tech is Here to Stay with a Robust Presence in the Future Healthcare Industry. Retrieved February 15, 2019 from ://www.wearable-technologies.com/2018/06/wearable-tech-is-here-to-stay-with-a-robust-presence-in-the-future-healthcare-industry/

The two sides of M.A.C. Cosmetics: operating in both the Digital and Physical World

“As the high street continues to change, retailers who bridge the gap between digital and real-world interactions will prosper.”

Michael Jackson, Venture Capitalist, 2018.
Picture from marketing91.com, 2019.

M.A.C. cosmetics is an example of a highly successful high street business that has looked to maximise profit by operating an online store, while constantly changing and evolving to meet consumer demands (Bhasin, 2018). Consumers are becoming more savvy, they know what they want and they demand the best. Brands are no longer in control, the consumer is.

M.A.C. has managed to successfully bridge the gap between digital and physical locations, as it operates within department stores, high street shops and has a significant online and social media presence (Mohasoa, 2014).

How it all started….

M.A.C. was set up in 1984 by two friends, makeup artist Frank Toskan and salon owner Frank Angelo.  They saw a gap in the cosmetics market for vibrantly coloured, high quality makeup that lasted. They launched M.A.C. cosmetics in Toronto, Canada and initially aimed their new brand of makeup towards professionals.  They wanted to establish themselves as the “ultimate colour authority” (M.A.C., 2018). 

M.A.C.’s first retail store opened in New York in 1991, using makeup artists as customer service advisers. The brand received international acclaim within the industry and by 1995, M.A.C. had been purchased by the world renowned Estée Lauder group.  The products are now available online and sold worldwide in over 105 countries.

M.A.C.’s opportunities and challenges in the digital world

Digitalisation has completely changed consumer behaviour, particularly in the cosmetics industry (Simpson and Craig, 2018). One of the challenges that M.A.C. faces according to Stickyeyes (2014), is the widening age range of their customer base and their varying digital habits.

Big opportunities for M.A.C. are social media and word-of-mouth, which are the main forms of communication they use with consumers (Quaatey, 2012) (Idigo, 2015). M.A.C. engages with vloggers, such as Patrick Starrr and bloggers, who influence and create social media posts and videos to promote the brand on various networking sites. This has led to greater engagement with consumers and higher sales (Estée Lauder companies, 2017). M.A.C. has 84.81% social media engagement and is the most blogged about brand in the market (Stickyeyes, 2014).

The challenge of social media is that it has caused disruption and changed the way the brand interacts with the consumer. It is now a two way channel, where consumers can feedback their comments instantly and in public. Consumers Affairs website (2019) allows consumers to write compliments and complaints about their experience with M.A.C. both online and in store. Simpson and Craig (2018) note that this could potentially have a damaging effect on the brand itself.

Patrick Starrr, 2018.

Another challenge facing M.A.C is that customers are looking to have the same experience online as they have in store. M.A.C. has resolved this by bringing Augmented Reality into stores and having makeup artists giving advice online, thus merging and harmonising the two aspects of the business.

AR is hitting the cosmetics industry by storm, as beauty companies work to develop Artificial Intelligence and AR to appeal to younger generations (Coady, 2018).  M.A.C. has teamed up with ModiFace to create a ‘virtual try on mirror’ in stores.  This AR software, virtually applies makeup to your skin so that you can see if it suits you without actually trying it on.

ModiFace.com, 2019.

“We believe the new ModiFace-powered mirrors will be a game-changing addition to our stores.”

Tim Tareco, M.A.C.’s senior vice president of visual merchandising and store design, 2017.

In addition to all this, AI is being used to predict future market trends and online customer service chat bots and digital assistants are being used to support the customer. 

Opportunities and challenges in the physical world

Source: Pinterest , 2019

“Retailing is about digital and face-to-face interactions with customers and how the different channels complement each other”

Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) chief executive, 2018.

The face of high street retailing is changing and Young (2018) described how companies need to upskill their retail staff in digital technology, which is infiltrating the high street stores. M.A.C. has maximised this opportunity by training staff to use the AV virtual mirrors, which they are installing into stores. Kirkpatrick (2017) states that these mirrors will help to increase sales and footfall in bricks and mortar stores.

According to a NatWest report (2018), retailing will be about experiences and not just buying the items. M.A.C. continues to capitalise on its unique selling point, whereby all sales representatives are makeup artists. There is a wide range of makeup services offered which encourages customers to visit instore.

There has been a decline in department stores beauty sales in recent years (Coady, 2018). According to a survey carried out by Ecommerce (2018), 51% of people shop on line. 55% of these customers have shopped more on line this year, than they did last year. Simpson and Craig (2018) confirm this by noting that more people are buying products online than in a physical store. Estée Lauder’s annual report (2017) supports this, by reporting a reduction of revenue in M.A.C’s high street stores. However, this will not faze M.A.C., as they are leading the way with the biggest overall market share in online beauty sales of 5.1% (Yurieff, 2017).

Final note….

Digital locations will continue to grow at M.A.C. and within the cosmetics industry generally over the coming years.  This means that high street stores will have to continue to adapt and change to meet the needs of consumers. The advancement of AR, AI and YouTube videos, has helped to ensure that we choose the appropriate products and are able to apply them correctly, without human interaction.  

The question is will we need retail stores in future?

Reference list
  • Idigo, N. (2015). M.A.C. Cosmetics Communication Dashboard. Retrieved January 31, 2019 from MAC COSMETICS COMMUNICATION DASHBOARD

Teaching in the Digital Age

Technology will certainly be a major factor in how education in the future differs from education today.

Dunwill, 2016
Future Teaching Image
Image Source

Within this blog I am going to consider how the digital economy has thus far changed teaching and investigate the changes that are likely to occur in the future. I was a lecturer of Beauty Therapy and then subsequently a manager within a further education college from 2001-2017, over this time the impact of the 4th industrial revolution has been significant and this is set to continue. 

I started my teaching career on the day of the twin tower attack in New York on the 11 September 2001.  I was teaching Body Massage to adults and I simply had a salon with 10 couches, a whiteboard on wheels and a paper register. 

Over the next few years, registers became digital and I was using an overhead projector in conjunction with my whiteboard.  

Smartboards came into the college in about 2010 and at this point they had already been in schools for several years.  Smartboards were completely new technology and sometime not reliable, it had specialised programmes to enable us to build activities for students. Following the Smartboard, we had new interactive wall projections.These were a lot more reliable and accurate, easily converting hand writing to text. 

Other big digital changes that have happened in teaching 

The use of computers for exams – Online testing came into the college for full time students in 2004, with multiple choice questions and immediate grading.  This was a huge step forward in technology and a massive reducing in marking time.

Online learning started with resources stored on a classroom interface called the VLE, virtual learning environment.  This developed into online exams and then into interactive activities online.  Whole modules and courses can now be taught interactively online, this form of learning has become popular and developed substantially over the last few years. Flipped Classrooms are becoming more common, enabling students to learn at their own pace.


Students all working at their own pace, collaboratively and learning independently.

The use of BYOD – Bring your own device (ipads/iphones/android equivalent) in secondary classrooms.  These smart devices are used within class, to set homework and allow student to access the internet and specific apps relating to different subjects.

Online and mobile homework appsShow My Homework, is one of these apps accessible to student, parent and teacher.  It clearly shows work completed, work due/overdue, comments and feedback to students.  Students can interact with the teacher, asking questions in real time when the need arises.  

Cloud computing and the digital library.  Books are now mostly digitalised and all work is stored in the cloud. With more research and teaching being carried out over the internet, school/college/university libraries have become learning resource centres, with less books and more computers.

Biometrics can be used in many ways, including scanning students fingerprints to enable them to withdraw a book from the library or purchase food in the canteen.

What do students think of all this new technology? A study, described by Eastman, Iyer and Eastman (2009), conducted on marketing students highlighted that when interactive technology was used in class, 87% (of students) were more likely to attend class, 72% were more likely to participate, 70% learnt more and 61% were more focused.

The classroom of the future

They may be flipped learning classes which include Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, 3D printing and Holograms.

Digital technologies of the future

Imagine being able to have your geography lesson on the edge of a volcano or your history lesson at the signing of the Magna Carta: fully immersive learning will allow this to happen. In their blog, the School Run suggest that teaching in the future will include a number of advanced technologies and that there will be 24 hour access to all resources.  Classrooms of the future are likely to have:

  • Smart multi touch tables – allowing for inclusive and collaborative learning.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) – where the environment is an “integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time.” (Rouse, 2016)
  • 3D printers – These will help students to understand difficult topics and allow them to build prototypes.
  • VR – Virtual Reality – Students could visit historical sites and relive famous events from history.  Hutchison (2018) warns of the use of VR in the classroom, while it is great benefit, it can distract students and therefore a balance need to be achieved between the use of digital technology and other learning methods.
  • An Artificial Intelligence teaching assistant who could support students in the classroom when the teacher is busy, giving a more individual learning experience.
  • Holograms – 3D images projected into the middle of the classroom, in the future this could be the teacher!  Walker (2013) discusses the use of holograms in the classroom, specifically for biology and medical students.  
This is a great short video explaining the different future technologies

The teaching landscape is changing beyond recognition.  Digital technology is here to stay and will continue to advance over the next 50 years.  Who knows what the future may bring, holographic teachers and AI teaching assistants may not be that far away.

Click here is see different teachers’ perspectives on the future of teaching.

For me, I think it is truly exciting and I cant wait to see what the future holds!

Word Count – 877

References

The start of my adventure

My marketing adventure beings in December 2017. I had been working in further education for 16 years and decided that it was time for a change. I wanted to try something new but was unsure what I could do. At first this was a daunting prospect, however with the support of my family, I took the first step and gave up my job. Over the next few months, I spent time researching careers and industries I was interested in. I tried to remember what had interested me the most when studying my degree and remembered that consumer behaviour had fascinated me. I typed consumer behaviour jobs into the internet and it quickly became evident that this type of job fell into the marketing industry.

With a definite career now in mind, I started to research marketing roles and realised that, ideally, I would need some sort of qualification in marketing. I explored various types of courses and found the online MSc in Marketing at Exeter University, which I started in September 2018.
I continued to apply for jobs in marketing and in July 2018, was successful in securing a job within a cyber security company. I work as a business development and marketing executive, which is a varied role and I am really enjoying it. I know that this was the right choice for me, the future looks bright and I am super excited to see what the next few years bring.

The future looks bright!

This blog is the start of a new module on Digital Business Models within my MSc and the next few blogs will be part of my course work.