Monthly Archives

October 2017

Windows to the soul and beyond.

By Jenni Ashwood.

As we move towards Christmas (sorry, we know it’s October), the nights might be getting darker but the windows are lighting up. Mr. Selfridge (Harry Gordon) said: ‘The whole art of merchandising consists of appealing to the imagination. Once imagination is moved, the hand goes naturally in the pocket.’ 

Nowhere is this more obvious than at Christmas, nor more lucractive.  “While Christmas windows are the pinnacle of self-expressive and creative display for stores, crucially they also drive foot traffic – and traffic drives sales” says Elizabeth Patton of the Financial Times, and The Telegraph claims that “Liberty’s iconic window displays are as much a part of Christmas in London as the Oxford Street lights.”

But really, it’s not just about Christmas. Barnaby’s reportedly change their windows weekly and no major store will disclose their Visual Merchandising budget for windows.  And nor is it really even just about windows. As eCommerce gains even more prominence, a store’s environment and interior visual merchandising becomes even more important (although admittedly, harder to measure) in a way that online just can’t replicate.

Anthropologie’s living wall, bubble staircase and spacious and relaxing fitting rooms, as well as the windows, reflects their wacky and creative ethos as much as their dresses and mugs do. Cos, with its sofas, magazines and intriguing light fittings, invites quiet and introverted relaxation, complementing its minimalist and simple aesthetic. Everything about the Benefit store on Carnaby Street – from the abundance of colour, to the pop-art, to the make-up artists and sales staff – shouts playful, fun and self-expressive.

We’ve spoken before about brands’ creation of communities to entice customers and create loyalty. This is almost even simpler than that. Just as you’re often drawn to friends and people whose appearance reflects either yourself or the self you’d like to reflect, so you are with actual shops.

No-one does it better than Supreme. The fervour created by the queuing system and the feeling of elation as you enter the beautifully curated environs of its stores (admittedly coupled with the very small supply nature of their products) can’t be replicated online, creating a hype and desire that in turn creates cult-like status, long-term profit and stratospheric levels of investment. What brand wouldn’t want that?

Keko London wins De Beers’ Forevermark Exceptional Diamond Collection brief.

Following a competitive pitch, Keko London has won the account for Forevermark’s Exceptional Diamond Collection – an exclusive selection of some of the most exquisite and rare diamonds in the world (over 5 carats).

Keko London will be responsible for creating and activating a new global marketing strategy. The agency has also been tasked to redefine the brand’s experiential strategy to engage with present and future UHNWIs.

This win follows the agency’s retention and expansion of the global Bentley Motors account earlier this year, underlining the agency’s expertise in reaching, influencing and selling to high-net-worth consumers. It demonstrates Keko London’s continued commitment to expanding their client base and applying their expertise to new sectors.

 Costantino Papadimitriou, Senior VP of Brand Strategy and Innovation at Forevermark said: “We ran a comprehensive tender process to find an agency that could demonstrate global expertise, and Keko London proved they could deliver this together with an innovative model for client collaboration”.

Ben Whattam, Managing Partner at Keko London said: “We’ve proven again that hard work and focus pays off for independent agencies. Our expertise in finding, influencing and selling to high-net-worth individuals allows us to help Forevermark with a global challenge across a diverse set of global markets”.

The Changing Face of Retail.

By Jenni Ashwood.

Being based between Soho and Mayfair definitely has its advantages – every day, as we head out to buy our lunch, we’re surrounded by some of the world’s most impressive brands, from the luxurious to the bargainous. They are the brands that refuse to keep doing what they’ve always done and from walking past their windows each day, we can learn a huge amount about what they’re offering and how they are evolving to suit a changing and increasingly digital customer base.

 

Here are three of our observations on the changing face of retail:

 

An engaging retail environment is a piece of cake

Perhaps it was Rapha that started it; some may say Burberry made it ‘a thing’; arguably department stores have been doing it for years. Visit the stores lining streets Regents, Carnaby and Oxford and one thing stands out: from Arket to Jack Wills to Sweaty Betty, coffee machines and cakes (and after-hours cocktails) compete with clothes hangers. And why shouldn’t they? In a world where experiences are proving more of a draw than things, it makes commercial sense to offer ‘more’ than a simple sale. It increases footfall and brand loyalty too… as long as the coffee’s up to scratch

 

Don’t just sell it, live it

If you’re looking for premium clotheswear in 2017, you’re spoilt for choice. Name us a sport and we’ll name you three outstanding marques designed to excel at that discipline. How can the dedicated yogi choose between Sweaty Betty or LuluLemon? ‘Just’ creating extraordinary products is no longer enough. It’s about the community that surrounds them and the loyalty that engenders. In fact, specialist stores that only offer sales now feel, almost, (dare we say it) lazy.

It’s a spectrum admittedly. At one end, Rapha’s Cycle Club boasts over 20 ‘chapters’ worldwide and organises rides, races, pop-ups and in-store talks; Sweaty Betty’s new flagship hosts a café, a blow-dry bar, and classes; it would be possible to spend a day in Topshop and barely even look at the clothes. Nike and Asics running clubs are now stalwarts of many cities’ running scenes.

But there’s a balancing act at play – when does so much become too much? Can the experience overshadow the product?

 

Collaborate unusually 

Brand collaborations are nothing new but whereas partnerships used to rely on similarity (e.g. Kate Moss and Topshop, Barbour and Liberty), now it seems that the opposite is taking place. The really stand out collaborations are those that seem unexpected to start with… Middle-England stalwarts L K Bennett, famous for Kate Middleton’s nude court shoes, partnering with sexy, body-con Preen, and J W Anderson, known for outsize shapes, use of colour and prints, partnering with the infinitely practical Uniqlo (that tartan puffer jacket is everywhere)

The leader of all of these partnerships, unarguably, is H&M, who proves that just because a collaboration is unexpected it doesn’t mean it’s not wanted, and who isn’t afraid to target very different audiences with each collaboration. From Karl Largerfield, to Comme des Garconnes, to Maison Martin Margiela (and many more) the company has shown that it truly understands the wide and varied demographic of its customers and that it recognises this not only in the products themselves but also in the very different types of communications and influencers who that surround each campaign too: Kendal Jenner for Balmain, contrasted with Baz Luhrmann for Erdem..

The New Rules of Luxury.

Ben Whattam on ‘Deconstructed Luxury’.

Keko London Managing Partner was featured in the recent Stylus ‘New Rules of Luxury’ report.

In the report he identified a younger global generation of UHNWIs who are driving a trend of ‘deconstructed luxury’: luxury consumers who want to enjoy what their wealth affords them: “They are open to consuming it in a more contemporary way – not always because they are trying to be different, but because they have newly accrued their wealth and haven’t been conditioned to accepted stereotypes or behaviours through their adolescence (think tech or hedge fund entrepreneurs)”.

“This is a statement of choice and individualism that seeks to deconstruct the cliché of wealth and luxury – one based on experiences and openness, rather than segregation and closed views”.

Ben went on to say that brands hoping to win the hearts and minds of contemporary UHNWIs have to engage early, often before wealth has been accumulated. “Traditional luxury brands were historically closed and private worlds. The most contemporary of luxury brands are now rushing to open their worlds – through social media, retail concepts and influencers”.

He also spoke of Keko’s ‘Be Extraordinary’ campaign for Bentley, which features the world’s most extraordinary car photograph using Nasa technology – read more here. This plays into the boldly entrepreneurial, confident and self-directed spirit that reflects changing attitudes to affluence. As the report highlights, the super-rich want to be the heroes of their own story.

The Stylus report provides a snapshot of future insights:

  • Assert Individualism

The super-rich need to be seen as the heroes of their own story, which means that luxury marketing has to be unabashed in making them feel self-directed, in control and maverick.

  • Be their guide

They are increasingly time-poor and adviser free, representing an opportunity for luxury marketers to act as guides and educators in the new luxe landscape.

  • Source new value

Security has a value, so marketers should ask themselves how their brand can create a new value they desire.

  • Tap into cultural identity

The new affluent have grown up with globalisation and are now seeking luxury experiences that reflect their personal and regional identity.

The Art of Invisibility.

By James Deeley, Head of Customer Experience.

As Keko London grows to meet the present and future needs of our clients and their customers, we are introducing and fostering new skills that position ourselves to provide the best support for our clients for the future. I know as I’m one of those new people in my role as Head of Customer Experience. But what is this? What does it do? And importantly, what difference will it make?

Largely, it’s about becoming invisible.

The sophistication in the manner that customers and audiences perceive and interact with brands and their products is continuously reinventing itself, spread across a growing list of channels, platforms and services, ever evolving and fragmenting into smaller groups of interests.

Today’s customer can easily interact with over thirty different brand and product touchpoints, with new ones arriving with breathtaking regularity, as technology, culture and media consumption shift and change. In this world of rapid technical achievement and increasingly personalised networks, finding, creating and maintaining a consistent and connected presence to the customer experience is both our challenge and aim.

This is a landscape that faces every organisation but one that is an expectation for luxury and premium brand customers, and when expectations are not met, when the brand experience is disjointed, it is often viewed as failure and presents a significant challenge to re-engage.

Increasingly this ‘high stakes’ environment requires strategic planning and integration across the whole of a business and its operation, from communications to retail, marketing to operations, broadcast to social media, prospect to advocate, to understand, inform, excite and convert their customers.

By using data and insights as our foundation, at Keko we look to partner with our clients across their full business to define, plan and design a branded customer journey that enables us to get closer to customers, to understand their motivations, influences, decision making process and behaviours. This foundation then allows us to orchestrate meaningful brand experiences, creatively ambitious campaigns and innovative concepts that flow across each touchpoint, reflecting and anticipating the customer needs. This enables us to find ways we can be daring yet effective, individual yet consistent, imaginative yet efficient.

Our clients create some of the world’s most beautiful and intelligent products, born of their own distinctive beliefs. Our aim is to help create the world’s most beautiful and intelligent customer experiences from our own.

Done well the wires are hidden, the joins don’t show, and the customer journey is effortless, effective and exciting.

Done well, our efforts become invisible to customers.

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence.

At Keko London, we are endlessly fascinated by technology. As AI is frequently featured in today’s news, we thought it would be interesting (we hope) to give you an insight into some of the latest innovations and statistics where appropriate.

AI has, to date, reached us through channels such as Netflix, but is now at the forefront of user experiences such as self-driving cars and online chatbots, assuming a more salient role in our lives.

So what are chatbots exactly? These are apps driven by artificially intelligent processes that can conduct ‘natural’ conversations with consumers. They are becoming increasingly powerful tools for brand marketers looking to engage customers in a more efficient way. A new report from Juniper Research forecasts that chatbots will be responsible for cost savings of more than $8bn a year by 2022, up from $20m this year. Meanwhile, global analysts Forrester revealed last month that 57% of global businesses are either already using chatbots or plan to begin doing so this year. That’s an enormous amount of artificial conversation taking place.

On that note, we recently saw a rather thought provoking ad on the tube. Insomnobot-3000 have just launched a chatbot dedicated to keeping you company if you can’t sleep – perhaps you had one too many coffees that day? What this means is that conversations aren’t just restricted to the digital sphere anymore, they are now entering our individual and private living ‘spaces’. Amazon’s Alexa in another example of this.

Having clients in the luxury automotive sector, we’re fascinated by how AI (and new technology) will co-exist smoothly with automobiles. Recently, the industry introduced What3words: a mapping system which has divided the world into 57 trillion three-by-three square metres with each section awarded 3 words. With some streets names occurring more than once, for example Church Road in London, and postcodes taking you to the road but not necessarily the right number, What3words seems like a (logical) great idea. Could this be the future of navigation? We had a look and if you’re keen on coming to see the Keko London office, our new address is: will.sober.penny.

On the subject of automobiles, the concept of driverless cars quite frankly blows our minds. And we’ve got some pretty powerful minds behind the team at Keko London. Isn’t it scary to think that the days of self-driving cars are not far away? Passenger economy means 250 million hours of dead commuting time will be freed up. That’s a whole lot of hours for a whole lot of new creative ideas to materialise. Aside from the obvious benefits of having more time to ‘think’ in an era where ‘time is luxury’, the realisation that AI is so advanced it can autonomously DRIVE you wherever you want is, perhaps just for some of us, unfathomable. Industry professionals are excited, but are consumers ready? Research shows that “the emotional acceptance of technology will be more tightly influenced by safety” (EMEA) but ultimately consumers will accept being driven (just as we have had to accept driverless trains between airport terminals).

Although many of us fear the unknown and some even the rise of killer robots, Eric Bee (Executive Producer at R/GA) is quick to step in and reassure us that should AI behave irresponsibly, or cause chaos, the team behind it could simply wipe its memory clean. Phew!

Check out our instagram page @kekolondon for the latest trends.