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Lightbox Loves: Travel in 2021

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Of the many ways coronavirus has affected life in 2020, the way Brits holiday is certainly high up that list. When Boris Johnson first announced the lifting of some lockdown restrictions in June, bookings for holidays skyrocketed. Hoseasons, a British brand offering luxurious scenic lodges, was recording one booking every 11 seconds. Can we expect to see this trend continue into 2021?

With many seeing this as a ‘lost year’ for travel, it seems so. Our August QT report found that one third of us have booked, or plan to book, a holiday abroad in 2021. Just 15% said the same for the remainder of this year. This is further supported by 38% of respondents saying they do not plan to travel abroad in 2020, with this figure reducing to 17% for next year. Flight booking platform Skyscanner also saw a 368% increase in searches for international travel in August, suggesting an optimism among Brits that holidaying abroad will return to some sort of normality next year.

However, uncertainty around ongoing restrictions could see the UK’s staycation industry continue to benefit. With 31% of Brits avoiding booking holidays abroad until things have calmed down. Considering the Government’s recent announcement that current restrictions will last for six months, the optimism we saw for international travel in August could be questioned. As long as self-isolation upon return from popular foreign destinations remains compulsory, staycations within the UK are likely to provide a more practical option for certain consumer groups, particularly families.

With winter approaching and talk of challenging months ahead, it is likely that booking a holiday will be one way that we look forward to the (hopefully!) sunnier times in 2021. The New Year period is traditionally one of the busiest times for holiday bookings, and despite a potentially more challenging economic climate, travel operators, both international and domestic, will be looking for signs of optimism in the market.

Sources

Sky News: “One Booking Every 11 Seconds As Brits Scramble To Buy Staycations”: https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-one-booking-every-11-seconds-as-brits-scramble-to-buy-staycations-12013892

The QT August 2020

BBC News: “New COVID Restrictions Could Last Six Months, Says Boris Johnson”: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54250696

https://www.forbes.com/sites/christopherelliott/2020/08/29/if-2021-becomes-the-year-of-travel-this-is-what-will-happen/#7131eda132d6

Lightbox Loves: Influencer Relevancy

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Influencer-marketing couldn’t escape the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but it may have helped it to find a new purpose. As brands paused their sponsorships, influencers went from having an average of 35% paid posts to only 4% in April. However, as the months have gone on, businesses and creators in the industry have adapted, with many shifting their focus to other streams of revenue that allow them to create DIY content without having to leave their homes.

Influencers have adjusted their content to become more relevant. There’s been a huge uplift in tutorials relating to fitness, recipes and hobbies, as the focus to helping one another and giving new perspectives has grown. It’s no surprise therefore that the7stars quarterly tracker – The QT – highlighted that social media usage increased by 47% in May, with it continuing to rise again in August. With more time spent online, consumers are more receptive to the content of these influencers than ever before, and value turning to those who are most closely aligned to their priorities. Niche influencers such as ‘plantfluencers’, have seen spikes in followers during the pandemic as people congregate around those that fit their needs.

By adjusting content to become more audience focused and specific, influencers have seen an increase in engagement. Instagram influencers, for example, have seen likes increase by an average of 68%, as well as a 50%+ uplift in comments. Rather than influencers leading completely different lives to their followers – jet setting, making personal appearances and attending launch parties – they’re spending more time at home and consequently, spending more time connecting with their followers mirroring their environments and situations.

This increase in engagement suggests that now is a good time for brands to re-evaluate the influencer landscape. Many influencers are arguably now closer and more relatable to their followers than they have been previously. The rise in niche influencers also facilitates targeting audiences authentically by aligning to what they’re truly passionate about.

The7stars QT, August 2020
https://www.businessinsider.com/how-coronavirus-is-changing-influencer-marketing-creator-industry-2020-3?r=US&IR=T
https://www.forbes.com/sites/charlesrtaylor/2020/07/30/is-covid-making-marketing-influencers-more-influential/#312e2e084200

Wagamama crowned winner at the Effies

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wagamama back in 2018 launched with their first ever brand ad into cinema. By embracing its distinctive soulful philosophy, and mastering the secret art of cinema, wagamama attracted a new swarm of urban butterflies through its doors. While others closed shop, our campaign delivered a 6% point penetration increase, grew like for like sales 8.8% vs. market growth of just 1.7%, and achieved a profit ROI of £5.21 for every £1 invested. Through meticulous media planning and an innovative cinema strategy, we broke the stereotypes of cinema and flipped it on its head. This successful campaign has been recognised and is now the winner of the 2020 Media Strategy & Idea category for the Effies.

 

Lightbox Loves: Accelerated e-Commerce

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The start of lockdown heard the phrase ‘new normal’ countless times in relation to all areas of consumer behaviour. One of the most notable areas that was referenced was in relation to online habits (in part because there wasn’t a huge amount else to do in the height of lockdown); rising to an average of 4 hours and 2 minutes in April 2020 versus 3 hours 29 minutes in September 2019. However the area that saw one of the most notable growths online was consumer adoption of digital retailing channels, with bricks and mortar shutting.

This trend of shifting to online has been seen before. In the 2008 recession in-person retail stalled as consumers moved online to be more savvy in their shopping and seek out better deals than what was on the high street.

COVID-19 has seen half of Brits shop online, resulting in a 10% growth in the online customer base, following the same pattern that has been seen previously. The biggest contributor to this growth has come from online grocery, with Nielsen Data stating that it totalled £1.12bn in the four weeks ending May 16, a year-on-year increase of 103%.

What’s interesting about online shopping is that, unlike other behaviours adopted during lockdown, online shopping is already set to stay, with 80% of shoppers stating that their new behaviours are here for the long-term. Interestingly, this isn’t just driven by the more digitally native Gen-Xers and Millennials favouring online; data published in early August from eMarketer shows that 62% of US Baby Boomers will buy online this year.

What is different about this growth in online shopping in the pandemic to the 2008 recession, is that where the momentum slowed as the UK came out of the 2008 recession, this time round it is set to continue on an upward trajectory. The August wave of the7stars QT measured increased usage of online shopping; in May 38% had increased this behaviour, this grew in June to 48% and in August 50%, highlighting the momentum around this consumer shift.

The brands that look to understand this evolving consumer habit and embrace the online shopping space will place themselves in a really strong position, not only to retain existing customers but also attract new customers.

Sources

Ofcom, UK’s internet use surges to record highs. June 2020

Lost in transaction research

the7stars QT, August 2020

Lightbox Loves: The Growth of esports

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“G2 are the greatest team we have ever produced in Europe and have gone back to back and won the summer season!” Unless you are a G2 or Fnatic fan you may be wondering which sporting final this line was captured from.  Sunday the 6th of September marked the final of the League of Legends European Championships (LEC) and this quote came as esports team, G2, closed out the match to become European champions. For those yet to come across esports, it is a form of sport competition using video games (e.g. Fortnite) and has turned previously casual gamers into serious stars.

This LEC event was streamed for over 10 hours and broke viewer records for the league, passing one million concurrent streamers. These record-breaking numbers, alongside the continued growth seen during this year’s pandemic, has encouraged many brands to seek out opportunities in the esports arena. In 2019 alone, esports had 454 million followers and was expected to grow to 646 million by 2023. Now, this viewership figure is expected to rise even higher. Our quarterly tracker, The QT, saw a 26% increase in online and mobile gaming in May this year.  So, who is getting involved?

A whole host of brands across multiple categories. The audiences that view and participate in esports are now seeing household names such as BMW, Pringles, Coca Cola, Audi and Red Bull advertising in streams and in-game, or even making larger moves to sponsor teams and events. The popularity of esports has also gained the interest of news publishers with the likes of Sky Sports and the BBC now regularly reporting on high profile tournaments and team updates. TV broadcasters are looking to gain esports eyeballs at an accelerated pace this year due to the absence of other sports, with Sky and BT both striking deals to show the official Premier League and Formula One esport tournaments respectively. Anyone watching the financial markets may also notice David Beckham’s esports team Guild Esports will be floated on the London Stock Exchange, looking to raise £20m and expand outside the UK market.

Whilst the events of this year have helped grow esports popularity, this is more than a passing trend. Four months into lockdown, we continued to see an increase in online/mobile gaming according to our very own QT (up 17% in August). Brands new to this space will have untapped opportunities when crowds return to packed arenas and stadiums, since many brands already have had to move to virtual or crowd-less events like other live sports this year. It’s time to leave behind any further assumptions that esports is a niche interest and start thinking about whether your audience are going to be streaming the next big event and how you can engage with them.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2020/sep/09/david-beckham-esports-team-to-float-on-london-stock-exchange-guild

https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikestubbs/2020/09/06/fnatic-ceo-says-esports-is-growing-exponentially/#560fe4bf5e0c

https://www.thedrum.com/profile/grabyo/news/esports-a-close-look-at-industry-growth-and-future-trends

https://win.gg/news/5442/lec-hits-1-million-peak-viewership-for-g2-vs-dot-fnatic-finals-match

https://www.businessinsider.com/esports-ecosystem-market-report?r=US&IR=T

the7stars quarterly tracker, The QT

Lightbox Loves: The Fast-Track to Frictionless

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If you ate out to help out last month, you probably interacted with a QR code more times than in the last five years put together. QR codes have popped up everywhere, from the check-in desk at the pub to the menu at Nando’s, allowing customers and staff to minimise contact with each other and reduce waiting times. As if overnight, COVID-19 has fast-tracked us to the frictionless world, where life is made easier through the automatic transfer of data.

Last year, the7stars Trends team predicted that frictionless technology would be a defining force in 2020. Back in 2019, wearable technology was becoming increasingly popular, as attested by Google’s £1.6bn purchase of Fitbit. This year, COVID-19 has accelerated the drive to track personal health data even further. Fitbit has just launched a new watch that has the added capability of measuring stress levels by tracking skin temperature and heart rate. Not to be outdone, Amazon has launched their own version of the fitness tracker called Halo. Halo measures a whole host of health indicators, including the energy and ‘positivity’ in users’ voices.

Retail is also getting a frictionless makeover. MasterCard is piloting its first check-out-free shopping technology that will work across a range of retailers, from shopping malls to airports. They are also piloting AI-powered, personalised drive-through menus. These smart menus suggest orders based on historical customer data, reducing the time taken for employees to take orders so food can be prepared faster.

Still, the unexpected winner of 2020 is the QR code. Designed with businesses in mind, the QR codes can be printed out to link customers to their pages. Businesses are already learning how to use QR codes better than before, by displaying them with a clear call-to-action. In the case of restaurants, it connects the customer with everything from their menus to track and trace forms. As consumers become increasingly familiar with using them, we expect that this time around they are finally here to stay.

 

The Seven Trends in 2020

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/qr-codes-coronavirus

Lightbox Loves: Lipstick on the Napkin

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As the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme comes to an end, figures from the first 3 weeks show that Britons used the scheme over 64 million times. This staggering number accounts for people who have moved their chosen evening out to earlier in the week and those who would not otherwise have gone out. The offer has represented a real change in the UK’s restaurant behaviour; OpenTable, the online reservations platform, reported a 61% rise in Mon-Weds bookings vs 2019. This spending takes place against the backdrop of the worst UK recession since records began. Therefore it seems strange that consumers are so keen to spend their disposable income. However, the lipstick effect helps explain this phenomenon and provides an opportunity for brands to offer real value to consumers through this difficult period.

For those who have not come across the lipstick effect before, it is an economic theory that suggests a reduction in big-ticket luxury expenditure in times of a recession leads to an uplift in small ticket luxury expenditure. This explains why people are looking for affordable ways to treat themselves. ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ aligned the core aspects of the theory – treat and low price point – and combined them with ease of use to create value in the mind of the consumer.

As we’ve been confined to home for large portions of 2020, treat has become synonymous with being out and about, and with holidays less accessible than they once were, eating out is filling this gap for the time being.  the7stars quarterly tracker of UK adults, highlighted this month that Brits are planning to spend less on long holidays (24%) and short breaks (22%), while 8% plan to spend more on eating-out and takeaways in the year ahead. Food is, in fact, the only surveyed category that has seen an increase in plans to spend. Nonetheless, price, offers and deals are the most important factors reported for grocery selection over the next six months. It stands to reason that this price sensitivity effects their out-of-home food choices too, with the government framing the ‘Eat Out To Help Out’ scheme as a saving representing a powerful, time limited offer of value to consumers.

In combining high value propositions with messaging that speaks to the current moment, brands can steer consumer behaviour as they start to look for small luxuries. Recent research from TVSquared demonstrated that TV ads explicitly mentioning the Coronavirus Crisis are three times more likely to resonate with viewers. What that ‘value’ is for a brand will depend on the price sensitivity of their target audience, but combining this messaging with products that are considered an indulgence is an impactful way to acknowledge the challenging times we face and enable consumers feel good about treating themselves to life’s smaller luxuries this year.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53911505

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/15/the-lipstick-effect-britons-treat-themselves-as-budgets-tighten

The QT, August 2020

https://tvsquared.com/tv-talk-the-halo-effect-with-effectv

 

Lightbox Loves: Fashion Rental

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If you are looking to become more ethical when it comes to your fashion footprint, then renting might just be the way forward. During the last 10 years social media has become more ubiquitous in consumers’ lives, combined with fast moving trends. This has given rise to this new rental market, beyond the previous wedding suit and fancy dress market. So instead of purchasing a new outfit for a wedding, you now have the possibility to rent the latest season’s fashion instead. During 2019, Bloomberg called renting clothes “the future of fashion“. It was predicted that the online clothing rental market could offer average returns of almost 11% between 2019 and 2023.

However, this was all before the pandemic. With so many of these key occasions now on pause, increasing concerns around hygiene, and consumers retreating to loungewear, meant the future of the fashion rental market started to look decidedly bleak. UK based fashion rental platform Hurr Collective told Vogue in May 2020 how the demand has definitely fallen in their sector since people were no longer were going to events, coupled with sanitation concerns.

Yet, could there now be change on the horizon for the future of fashion rental? Looking at Google trends data from the last year, it is evident that the clothing rental market took a predictable hit during the pandemic; however, there are already some positive signs that the sector is recovering, with the search terms creeping up again. Furthermore the drive to make the fashion industry a more ecologically responsible, greener and a less impactful industry has not gone away. It accounts for 10% of global emissions and 20% of waste water. To put that in perspective, fashion uses more energy globally than both aviation and shipping combined.

Recently, a number of brands have made efforts to address these issues and try to encourage consumers to rent rather than buy, in spite of the on-going pandemic.

Brands such as Levi’s who have teamed up with Danish brand Ganni to create a capsule collection for Ganni Repeat, a “rental platform that’s trying to create a more circular fashion system and help people rethink how they consume fashion”. This rental-only collection is a first for both brands.

Meanwhile, Selfridges has launched its first ever in-house rental collection in partnership with Hurr Collective. After a successful pop-up concession, it has now become a permanent fixture within the store. This is part of their new sustainability pledge, ‘Project Earth’, with the store changing the way we shop by addressing the environmental impact of materials and production methods used in products, launching a repair and resell retail model and working with customers to try and shift mindsets to become more earth friendly.

With so many uncertainties and people becoming increasingly risk adverse when it comes to their health, it is evident that the pandemic has had a negative effect on the demand for clothing and the clothing rental idea, in particular. Yet we have started to see a glimmer of interest again across this sector with the easing of lockdown measures. It will be interesting to see how this market reacts and evolves in the coming year.

Sources:

  1. https://www.vogue.co.uk/fashion/article/will-the-fashion-rental-market-recover
  2. https://www.businessinsider.com/startup-by-rotation-bucks-trend-rent-the-runway-struggles-covid-2020-7?r=US&IR=T
  3. https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?geo=GB&q=clothing%20rental
  4. https://www.elle.com/fashion/shopping/a33573693/ganni-repeat-levis-collection/
  5. https://www.harpersbazaar.com/uk/fashion/fashion-news/a33630593/selfridges-rental-collection-hurr/
  6. https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/clothing-rental-covid-19-demand-085800704.html
  7. The Future of Fashion Is a Rented Dress
  8. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200310-sustainable-fashion-how-to-buy-clothes-good-for-the-climate