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10 Hot Takeaways from MediaPost’s Retail Brand Insider Summit
MediaPost’s annual Retail Brand Insider Summit was one for the books. Held in Lake Tahoe, this three-day conference featured a combination of educational content (case studies, panels, Q&A’s, etc.) and networking events. With a good mix of representatives from brands, vendors and agencies, it was not to be missed.

Empower sent two of our best and brightest client strategists (Kelly Roderick and Dana Staton) to represent, and they returned energized with plenty of key learnings and themes to share. Below, please find their 10 hot takeaways from the event.

1) The Pending Recession: Will it happen?

There were differing opinions on this hot topic:

  • Some said that the economy is looking up and therefore, we are well suited to avoid a recession.
  • Others argued that Europe is currently in a recession, and the U.S. will likely follow that path.

2) How can advertisers best prepare during uncertain times?

  • Consumer retention should be at the forefront: This means prioritizing your loyal customer base via first party data is key during a time where acquisition costs are high, and consumers are more apt to switch brands.
  • Remember that 2021 was an anomaly: During our roundtable discussions, brands agreed that it is unfair to compare Q4 2021 performance to the upcoming Q4 2022 retail holiday season, based on numerous factors that affected performance YA.

3) Now and moving forward, creative needs to be more personalized across all platforms.

  • Every piece of content doesn’t need to go to all partners. Marketers need to be deliberate with where and how they’re using video assets. We know not to use standard video assets on TikTok, but the same should be seen as true for other partners in the space.
  • Gen Z, specifically, expects new bite-size brand messaging on the daily. With the never-ending personalized content being served to these consumers via TikTok and Reels videos, they are looking for the same experience with advertising.

4) Speaking of TikTok, don’t force it.

TikTok was a hot topic throughout the conference, but a key point was if your audience is not there, your brand doesn’t need to be. Another key takeaway is that majority of retailer brands are still using TikTok for awareness versus lower funnel sales, as they have not seen the conversion return from the platform. From a lower funnel conversion perspective, brands are still prioritizing Meta across the social mix. Implementing Facebook’s Conversion API (CAPI) will be key for brands as well!

5) Outside of Social, how are brands diversifying the media mix?

  • OTT/CTV: Brands are seeing across their measurement that when OTT/CTV is in play, lower funnel performance is stronger.
  • Programmatic: Some brands are shifting spend from social towards programmatic.
  • Native: The jury is still out on the best way to utilize native for lower-funnel campaigns. Many brands shared that they are seeing native drive efficient site traffic, however, are not seeing the conversions.

6) If you create authentic connections, the transactions will follow.

Cheryl Mills Knight, the SVP of Culture from Kendra Scott, shared the background story of Kendra Scott’s rise to the top of the jewelry industry by choosing family, fashion and philanthropy as their core values.

Family: They adopted the “brother/sister” rule where they wanted to treat everyone that came through their door, online or offline, as their family member. With this, they gave every loyalty member 50% off any piece of jewelry for their birthday month and created a communal in-store experience.

Fashion: They drew consumers into their Brick-and-Mortar locations through their Color Bar jewelry try-on experience, allowing consumers to have an event-type experience in the store with their friends and family. Shoppers were offered champagne and snacks, and were able to try on multiple pieces of jewelry at once. They also launched a virtual Color Bar online during the pandemic and recently expanded their jewelry offerings to men, with more casual day-to-day options.

Philanthropy: They created “Kendra Cares” which brought the Color Bar to pediatric hospitals and non-profit organizations.

7) Influencers can create authentic connections, specifically with Millennials and Gen Z.

  • Utilizing UGC and micro-influencer content resonates with younger audiences and drives a more authentic, engaged following versus macro-influencers. These are a good first step to testing new content and seeing what is gaining popularity.
  • Cheryl Mills Knight of Kendra Scott spoke about how they had leaned into the “Bama Rush” phenomenon by interacting with the women going through rush and creating accessory inspiration-related content ahead of the 2022 rush season.

8) Live Shopping events offer serious brand potential.

Women’s lingerie brand, Adore Me, has grown brand through live shopping events. Channel Marketing Manager, Marina Addams, looked to QVC for inspiration in building the brand’s first live shopping event.

  • Ultimately, they found that the high production quality and cost did not lead to higher sales and have since moved to a more authentic “low-fi” experience.
  • SMS messages have worked best to drive people to the live shopping events, and they are incentivized to buy through a special discount code.

9) Brands are dipping their toes in Text/SMS messaging.

With a high average open rate, brands like Kendra Scott, Adore Me and Sleep Number are seeing success with Text/SMS messaging to their customer base, however, the main discussion was how to engage and be relevant, without being intrusive. The core consensus was that in order to win on this platform, the offer, timing and cadence is key. Engagement should focus on specific offers and frequency should not be over-done, or consumers will begin to opt-out.

10) Cookieless Future – when will it happen?

While the deadline keeps getting pushed, growing 1P data will help all brands long term. Brands should be building up their loyalty programs and expanding current customer lists through modeling.