There is a revolution happening all around us, yet many of us simply aren’t noticing it. It is called the “The Internet of Things” (IoT) and it is defined as a network of physical objects and devices that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.
Gartner Research reports that 6.4 billion connected “things” will be in use in 2016, up 30% from 2015. The IoT sector will support total service spending of $235 billion in 2016, up 22% from 2015. Leading sectors include homes, automobiles, and consumer products.
You might be surprised to learn that the IoT revolution is now impacting the beauty, apparel, and jewelry business sectors.
L’Oreal is not a name typically associated with the International Consumer Electronics Show, but in early January, Guive Balooch, global VP of L’Oreal Technology Incubator, was in Las Vegas to unveil the beauty giant’s new foray into wearable tech: a temporary tattoo that measures sun exposure call “My UV Patch.”
It is a “stretchable sensor” with a diameter of one inch and thickness of 15 microns (think band-aide-like). My UV Patch contains flexible electronics that with the help of your smartphone, can tell you how much UV exposure you are subject to and at what times of day, with the help of your smartphone. “It’s a fashion statement” Mr. Balooch said in a NY Times interview.
As to why they started with a patch, “We know from our consumer insight research that UV exposure is a big issue for people,” Mr. Balooch said. “We really only wanted to make products that would disrupt the industry.”
After testing out the technology on ball boys at the 2014 US Open, Ralph Lauren began selling a PoloTech™ smart shirt for men that is embedded with sensors to track vital signs like breathing, heart rates, stress levels and calories burned.
The PoloTech shirt streams the information to an app that generates customized workout programs. From all this data, the shirt will essentially tell you how to exercise.
Fashion designers are also now exploring the potential of sensors and internet connectivity to create clothing and accessories that are often beautiful and intriguing as well as smart.
Lauren Bowker at The Unseen in the UK has created materials that change color and pattern in response to sensors, including a dress that “interprets human magnetism and emotions by reading brainwaves,” and a “4,000-piece gemstone headdress that reads brain activity, portraying distinctive color states of the individual’s thought process.” (shown at right)
The UK Guardian reported on the trend last year “Get yourself connected: Is the internet of things the future of fashion” including dresses that glow thanks to LEDs embedded in the fabric of a programmable shirt that features a video display, built in camera, microphone and speakers with the ability to show status updates, songs and photos.
There is more to connected accessories than smart watches. The fashion-forward Altruis from Kovert Designs is meant to remove people from the spell of tech and put them in a more meditative, connected to the here and now frame of mind. Unlike their better-known competitor Ringly, the Altruis collection is designed to limit the demands your phone places on you.
Instead of providing a constant technological tug and alerting you to activity across your social media accounts, it lets in only a select few who try to reach you with calls, texts, and email messages. Prices: $345-$430.
Ringly is the acknowledged category leader in “smart jewelry.” They create jewelry and accessories that connect to smartphones and provides customized notifications to on-the-go women. Ringly is also working with MasterCard to make their jewelry a mobile payment device. Imagine using your bracelet to buy a stunning gold necklace.
THE FUTURE OPPORTUNITY
At BLACK + GOLD we’re excited about the IoT wearable technology as it enters the beauty, apparel and jewelry business sectors. We think this convergence spells plenty of opportunity for both large and small businesses alike to test “disruptive ideas” that will evolve the function of their products
“The jewelry industry seems poised for a glittering future” according to a recently published report from global consulting giant McKinsey & Company entitled “The Jewelry Industry in 2020.”
McKinsey estimates annual global sales of $168 billion are expected to grow at a healthy clip of 5 to 6 percent each year, totaling $285 billion by 2020. The report noted that “Consumer appetite for jewelry, which was dampened by the global recession, now appears more voracious.”
The industry is also reported to be dynamic and fast moving. “Jewelry players can’t simply do business as usual and expect to thrive; they must be alert and responsive to important trends and developments or else risk being left behind by more agile competitors,” the McKinsey report went on to say.
The dynamic nature of the business is clearly evident in two key trends: The growth of branded jewelry and the massive increases in online jewelry sales. Online jewelry sales are enjoying double-digit sales growth, far outpacing the category as a whole.
What makes for an attractive, engaging and ultimately successful eCommerce presence for a jewelry company?
Create a Distinct Visual Brand
These days it is more important than ever for an online jewelry retailer to establish a clear and distinct visual brand. What does this mean?
Fashion and fine jewelry designers need to start with a great product line, and then work to establish a visual identity that will empower them to stand apart from the competition.
Much of the visual brand presence is represented by photography, and there is a need to create images that consistently underscore your brand. If people see the product line on a website or social media (often on a smart phone) will they be able to quickly recognize and experience the unique attributes of your brand?
The online jewelry market is saturated, and the method for success is to distinguish yourself visually, in a fast and in an engaging way.
Use Consistent High Quality Product Images
In many people’s minds, when it comes to eCommerce it is all about product shots on white.
They think creating these shots is very simple, though it is actually very complex, and many aspects need to be managed with a great attention to detail.
Styling of pieces is important: the arrangement of the product in the frame must be smooth and neat, in order to makes the product look most appealing. When shooting a series of like products, make sure they are styled consistently.
Lighting is especially import for jewelry. It is an intricate process to light the various component parts of jewelry well. Some need “hard” light, while others look much better using “soft” light.
Retouching is also important. It is its own craft, and nearly all images need help: for example delivering consistent color, a clean white background, with strong contrast. In short, a litany of issues need to be managed.
Effective eCommerce usually means employing a large volume of images to keep things fresh and engaging for viewers. A good balance of quality, with a casual appeal, will work best for these eCommerce images.
Smart jewelry companies seek out photographers who have a process and infrastructure in place to deliver consistent, high quality shots. Every time a detail is overlooked, the images and ultimately eCommerce sales will suffer as a result.
Move Fast to Test Emerging Technologies
People are using mobile devices and smart phones more than ever in their daily lives. In an era of short attention spans, and a need for immediate gratification, the appearance of “buy” buttons is revolutionizing the way people can shop online using social media.
Many social media networks, including Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, are now offering a simple two-step “buy” button. This is a revolutionary online shopping development. This emerging technology is ripe for use in jewelry eCommerce.
Using this feature, the social media user can purchase the product in as few as two taps – one on the buy button and a second confirmation tap.
Online merchants also need to work hard to stay visible and relevant by actively managing their “digital storefront” (website, blog, social media) with fresh, engaging and relevant content. They should also be mindful of tracking the data eCommerce produces to help identify what works, and what does not work.
It’s clear that the eCommerce future for jewelry manufacturers and retailers is a bright one, with a mindful approach to the art + science of eCommerce.
Keywords – everyone seems to be talking about them. But what’s the best way to use the art + science of keywords to help build your business?
Keywords are usually thought of as an “index term” to help people and search engines find relevant web content. They can also be the primary gateway to eCommerce or other business engagements.
Let’s take a look at them in a broader way. In this post we’ll look at:
- Using keywords from an artistic / visual branding perspective
- How keywords work, and why you need them
- The different types of keywords
Consider the artistic and creative perspective on keywords. Your brand should have a unique character, and an equally unique aesthetic look and feel.
Here’s a fun marketing exercise:
Pick three keywords to describe the aesthetic character of your brand.
Is your brand fun? Colorful? Intimate? Quirky? Serious? What’s the personality of your brand?
Think in terms of the three words that can immediately describe the way your brand looks and feels. This is a useful exercise – as the key words can lay down a consistent foundation for your images and related marketing content. This process is something an algorithm can’t do for you.
Consider Tiffany, the legendary jewelry brand. If you were to distill the visual character of their brand into three words, they might be elegant, powerful and loving. The company embodies these terms, and they are used as a visual blueprint for every image the company’s creates.
Without using keywords as a road map – you may fall victim to the old adage: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there” and this certainly applies to the visual presentation of your brand and its products.
In terms of the science of key words, a business should create content around relevant topics for their products or services, and these are expressed as keywords, which helps them “rank” well in search engine result listings.
A simple informative video of how search works from Google can help you understand the mechanics.
Why do you need keywords?
- Keywords should be used as the foundation of your website, blog and social media presence. They can also inform offers and e-mails.
- Keywords can help visitors and potential customers understand the purpose of your web page / blog and business.
- When a search engine crawls your web pages to index them – it will parse the keywords on the page to determine the purpose of your pages.
There are two different types of keywords:
Broad Keywords: Are short words or phases that can apply to your own company, as well as every other firm in your industry.
Long-tail Keywords: Tend to be longer words or phrases that are more specific to your company.
When you’re first getting started, you definitely will want to start by targeting long-tail keywords, because these are easier to rank for and they also bring in the most relevant and qualified traffic.
Using a combination of both “art” and “science” driven keywords will help spell success for your eCommerce / online marketing efforts. Be sure to test different keywords to see which yield the best outcomes or results in terms of building site traffic, visitor engagement and eCommerce.
That’s the art + science of keywords in a nutshell.
How do you plan to use keywords to build your business this week?
With the rise of eCommerce retailers, it’s only logical that showrooms would soon follow suit. Online showrooms like Joor, The Runthrough and Edited have streamlined the process of perusing look books, placing orders, and requesting samples.
Not only are these showrooms increasing their access to scores of potential customers and helping to eliminate tedious paperwork, but they’re also making major sales- we’re talking 9 figures here. That’s a lot of zeros!
But a great showroom won’t boost your sales if you don’t provide them with great photography. Here are some smart strategies to consider:
Clarity is Crucial
A quick glance at your photos should tell the consumer everything they need to know. Are you uncertain of how to represent your products? Our Creative Directors and Stylists will devise a plan to make them shine! If you need multiple views of the same product, of course we do that too.
Once your images are online, the whole world is watching! How do you communicate effectively to everyone & anyone? Thankfully, exceptional photography is the other “international language” and clean, elegant images never go out of style. Whether you need product or model photography, our team can execute your vision and communicate your message.
Stay Ahead of the Competition
Working with a showroom enhances your visibility, but it also puts you in direct comparison other brands they represent. Fabulous photography is the key to standing out among the masses!
Ready to amp up your creative images? Seek out and hire a photography studio that has proven it can generate unique concepts and fresh look that will give you a creative edge and elevate your brand.
When it comes to using photographic images to promote your brand and products on an eCommerce website, in advertising, catalogs, with e-mails or on social media, its wise to know that there are distinctly different kinds of images.
Which type of image should you use to get the most from its intended business, marketing or promotional purpose? How much time, energy and most of all money should be invested in conceptualizing and creating the images?
Finally, how will you know which images are working the hardest for your money to help grow your business?
At BLACK + GOLD we look at these challenges from two distinct, but not unrelated perspectives: Art + Science.
Here’s an overview of the various types of commercial photos that are available, what makes them great and how to use them to help build your business.
The most basic type of commercial photographic shot is a product on white.
In this shot the “product is hero.” You will want to portray your product in the most flattering way possible in terms the angle of the shot and lighting. It’s worth working with a reputable commercial photographer or agency, with a good portfolio of work, to help make your product looks the best it can.
Here “professional eyes” on the lighting and styling of the shot can make a world of difference on its ability to sell product for your business online, in advertising or from catalogs.
A similar shot to the product on white image is the creative grouping on white. Here the objective is to portray a line of products in a compelling way, in terms of how the products are arranged and illuminated, such as a line of bracelets or earrings.
Groups of products tend to generate better engagement, and are the most affordable of the “creative” shots, showing products in a stylized way to enhance their impact.
Again, it’s critical to use professional styling and lighting. It will have a big impact on the quality of these types of shots, and their ability to help sell merchandise.
The next type of photographic image to consider is the Creative Campaign shot. Here you’ll want to invest time and money to get both the concept and photography right. With this shot you want to aim to get the best quality (photographer / agency) you can afford, that will deliver a polished brand image.
Selecting the right props, casting the right talent, selecting the right location, time of day, lighting, wardrobe, hair, and make-up are key. These can be still life product shots as well.
The combination of the art direction, styling, lighting and photographer’s creativity along with some help from retouching will deliver a sophisticated, glamorous and larger-than-life image for your brand / products.
In the end you simply want to make people linger over the image, and make the product “an object of desire” that they will want to buy.
Last but not least are social media / eCommerce shots. Many companies simply don’t pay much attention to these shots, and they suffer from inadequate art direction and general poor quality.
But consider the explosive growth of smart phones / tablet devices along with visually driven social media venues like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook; and online shopping – all these venues have made images a key point of consumer engagement.
With this category of images having more shots is always better, where you may want to opt for the quantity of images over super-high production value – to help manage costs, and keep things fresh for your audience. These shots are typically more casual, in order to be more fun and accessible.
Think of these types of shots as Chanel off-the-rack ready to wear, versus Chanel haute couture (campaign type shots). Both have great style and branding, you can simply afford to buy more off-the-rack merchandise, and happily live with a little less production value.
Today’s eCommerce landscape is ruled by data and analytics. In simple terms it’s using data to help you figure out which marketing activities are working and which are not. Knowledge is power here, which can lead to a more profitable operation.
When it comes to managing your image library, you will want to identify and use more images that generate the most “audience engagement.” That includes which are being shared most on social media, and those that can be tied to actual eCommerce orders. These actions will help build awareness of your brand and grow your bottom line.
A great place to start is Google Analytics. Using Google Analytics can help you better understand the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, better understand your visitors, and optimize your eCommerce efforts in term of more conversions and increased sales.
Google Analytics can be intimidating. Just the thought of a bunch of data, graphs and charts can easily scare a lot of people off. However, understanding the fundamental metrics of your site and your visitors is absolutely crucial to growing and scaling your business.
In the end, effective marketing and eCommerce is a function of creating and delivering engaging images (art) and using analytic data (science) to measure which products / images work and which don’t work in term of driving business results.
This learning can guide your marketing content development and investments for the best business results possible.
Welcome to the new BLACK + GOLD blog “The Art + Science of Modern Marketing.” We’ve created this blog to talk about how we view the current order of marketing and creativity.
Much has been said and written about how much marketing has become a science, with all the advancements in technology and the web impacting eCommerce. As famed consulting firm McKinsey Company wrote recently in their white paper The dawn of marketing’s new golden age:
“Advances in data, modeling, and automated analysis are creating ever more refined ways of targeting and measuring the returns on marketing investments, while generating powerful new clues about why consumers behave as they do.”
While we respect and practice the science of modern marketing, at BLACK + GOLD we are firmly committed to the art of visual story telling with great photography, creating images that reflect and celebrate the authenticity of a brand and its products, in a way that no algorithm can define.
BLACK + GOLD is made up of artists, writers and creatively inspired people first and foremost, and we use that lens for everything we do. And we then combine our artistic sensibilities with proven business acumen.
Is freely mixing art + science in business, marketing and eCommerce like trying to mix oil and water?
We think not.
On this blog we’ll be sharing ways that will help you understand and then put into practice both the art + science of modern marketing.
We invite you to comment on and share our posts on social media, and let us know if there is anything you’d like us to write about going forward.