Evolution of the Digital Community

The trials and tribulations of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands narrowing the gap between the brand and it’s consumers.

Many fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands struggle to engage consumers in a meaningful, long-term relationship. Mentally Friendly was engaged by Schwarzkopf in 2011 to narrow the gap between the brand and its consumers. Our proposal was to foster a community of consumers who would engage in a two-way conversation and transform them into brand advocates.

FMCG products are often seen as functional and non-aspirational, and the highly competitive landscape in which they exist is characterised by a race to the bottom on price, and a high availability of substitute products.

From billboards to message boards

To set the scene, let’s take a look back at 2011. The world of media, marketing and consumerism was in a state of revolution. In just a few short years, Facebook had acquired over 600 million users and was showing no signs of slowing down. Buses and billboards had always delivered on mass-scale reach and awareness, but couldn’t fill the void left by lack of engagement.

These traditional media approaches treat all consumers the same and there is no personal engagement, affinity or trust built with the brand.

The rise of social media has opened up the playing field for brands to have meaningful, two-way conversations with their consumers. The opportunity was too good to miss.

Facebook, a community for one and all

The number one digital platform for engaging Schwarzkopf’s consumers was Facebook.

Through a series of campaigns, we grew ‘likes’ from a few hundred to over 140,000.

Chief among these was the ‘Australia’s Most Beautiful Hair’ campaign — a search to find Australia’s best hair and crown one lucky winner ‘Australia’s Most Beautiful’. After the campaign we had an engaged audience with whom we could communicate several times a week; a community on a platform at the peak of its popularity.

Consumer insights leading communications

We sought to make a transition away from traditional marketing communications selling hair product innovation, to a strategy led by consumer insight. The team was conscious that highly engaged consumers feel a deeper affinity for the brand, so we looked for ways to find a meaningful position in their consideration set.

Only once customers are inspired to engage, can a brand change their behaviour.

To ignite and engage a local interest in Schwarzkopf and demonstrate the brand’s relevance to each customer (and knowing we couldn’t compete with the media spend of others in the category), we decided to utilise an independent, accessible and relatable source of content — Australian bloggers.

This was the first time Schwarzkopf had entered into partnership with authors of independent dialogue, and it paid off. The conversation with consumers widened and deepened, and consumer engagement took a step-change upwards.

A home of our own

Over time, Facebook transitioned to become a media platform — a move that irrevocably changed the playing field.

Brands could no longer communicate with their audience for free. We had an engaged audience of over 100,ooo. They were keen to share, to be inspired, to be educated, but we couldn’t reach them without a cost! Hosting our community purely on Facebook meant that we had to talk to them on Facebook’s terms. We now needed to take back control. Thus, in 2014 Style Studio was born.

Style Studio is home to all of the brand’s inspirational and educational content, and is the destination to which all online activity is directed.

Leading With Strategy

With a new platform developed, we worked with Schwarzkopf to further localise the brand and guide the consumer conversation.

We launched the ‘Hair Happiness’ strategy — an all-channel message that focuses on inspiring consumers to set goals, and equipping them with the means through which to make every day a good hair day.

Style Studio 2015 EDM

Communities consist of repeat visitors

Members of a community visit the community hub more than once. We knew that it was overly-ambitious to expect the majority of consumers to organically gravitate back to a brand site, so instead we sought to give them a reason to.

In an effort to keep front-of-mind and drive ongoing engagement, our strategy was to send frequent, curated emails to keep subscribers in-the-know, and intrigued to return to explore Style Studio further. This was a community that we wanted to be cared for and not simply dumped into the database.

As the database grew and grew, we introduced segmentation strategies ensured our communications were relevant, targeted, and actually delivering value to the readers.

Activating consumer interest

In 2015 we launched Hair Horoscopes — a lighthearted and personality-packed quiz that tied community interactions back to the product.

Hair Horoscopes delivers a profile along with suggested care products, based on your hair type. The Hair Happiness Challenge — an intensive four week programme hosted by Zanita Whittington, our brand ambassador for the year — designed to help consumers overcome their excuses and take control of their Hair Happiness with the help of structured video instructions each of which involved Schwarzkopf products. And the Colour College — a one-stop-shop for hair colour education, featuring a series of high-profile Australian bloggers that we filmed colouring their own hair to achieve the season’s hottest looks. This activity, much like the Australia’s Most Beautiful Hair competition, encouraged consumers to recreate the looks at home before posting selfies to a public gallery.

It’s not over yet

2016 marks our 5 year anniversary with Schwarzkopf, and we’re still going strong. Like any relationship, there have been ups and downs. So much has changed in the digital landscape since we first embarked on this journey, but a close and collaborative approach has seen us work together to find and produce the best solution.

Over the last 5 years, social media has developed from a user-generated content forum to a business-driven media channel. Newsfeeds have become cluttered with branded messages and are now flicked through like the ad pages of magazines. People are consuming more content, while engaging less. Through all of this we have utilised an agile way of working to overcome these hurdles as they appear.

Now it is the FMCG landscape that is in a phase of revolution. As shoppers revel in the convenience of home-delivered goods, and User Experience becomes more intertwined with Customer Experience, retailers and supermarkets move their efforts online. Point-of-Sale is becoming digital territory, and along with it, so are POS communications. The latest iteration of Style Studio introduced product pages for Schwarzkopf’s range of over 250 products, taking our digital community a step further down the conversion funnel. As our objectives shift from awareness to consideration, we’re excited to see what the next 5 years will bring.

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