Bringing The X-Factor For The Shopper Of Tomorrow: The Top 5 Takeaways From HypeHour #10

09.24.2021 Blog , The HypeHour
By Sargena Narsa, PR & Communications Content Specialist

Without warning, the pandemic generated a shift in shopping behaviors, forcing brands and consumers to adapt to e-commerce and digital solutions. This upcoming holiday season, retailers and consumers will continue to see the pandemic’s lasting effects on shopping trends, inventory, and consumer expectations. Consumer expectations are shifting when it comes to how they browse, discover, buy, and receive goods. During HypeHour #10, “Bringing the X-Factor for the Shopper of Tomorrow,” our panel of experts discussed their X-Factor for overcoming the potential downfalls businesses will face during the upcoming holiday season. The HypeHour is a monthly livestream that covers relevant topics, answers challenging questions and brainstorms creative ideas, featuring different perspectives from industry experts.

Meet our buzzworthy panel of experts that joined us in HypeHour #10: “Bringing the X-Factor for the Shopper of Tomorrow”:

  • Graham Anderson – North American Field Marketing Manager at De’Longhi
  • Brian Rants – Director of Marketing at Cordial
  • Hanoz Gandhi – Sr. VP Technology and Analytics at BDS Connected Solutions
  • Andrew Catapano – Chief Digital Marketing Officer at BDS Connected Solutions
  • Kelly Campbell – Director, Digital Content Marketing at BDS Connected Solutions

You can watch the livestream video above, read the detailed transcription below, or – if you just want the highlights – here are our top takeaways from HypeHour #10:

1)    Supply Chain Challenges

With the ongoing effects of the pandemic, brands will face challenges of not only acquiring customers, but will have to fight for inventory to provide to those customers. This upcoming holiday season will be different than last year. According to Hanoz Gandhi, “it’s going to be worse.” Brands and consumers must be prepared to face some of the same challenges that presented themselves last year during the pandemic – except this year, there will be major supply chain issues. Container ships are in high demand, resulting in cost increases. The average cost of a shipping container has multiplied four to seven times in comparison to pre-pandemic costs.

Consumers will not be the only ones fighting for product this holiday season. Retailers will also be facing inventory and supply chain struggles. Due to the increases in cost, consumers can expect to see fewer discounts this year. Major retailers will not face the same challenges as smaller businesses if they have their own shipping containers. Along with the increased cost of shipping containers, brands and customers will also be facing an increase in prices from FedEx, UPS, and USPS. Ultimately, the pressure is on for brands to make sure their customers get the products they want under the tree this holiday season!

2)    Buying Early

Customers have already recognized that there are issues and delays with the supply chain. Many of them are overcoming inventory challenges by making purchases early. At the beginning of the pandemic, the shift to online shopping increased for Mother’s Day. Last year, shopping for Mother’s Day gifts peaked a week before the holiday, compared to the usual peak on the Sunday of Mother’s Day. Customers usually wait until the last minute to make purchases, but they are now beginning to recognize the pattern that inventory is being affected by the pandemic. This year, people may wait for discounts and sales to make purchases for the holiday season, although we will be seeing fewer discounts from newer brands and off-brands. Brands and consumers are also using subscriptions as a way to get something under the tree even before the product or service enters their home.

3)    Reshaping Retail

Retail will continue to transform, not only during the holiday season, but throughout 2022. Retailers are recognizing that consumers prefer to try and touch a product before making a purchase. Retailers will be offering more experiential buying opportunities as retail transforms. Gandhi suggests that there will be a transformation entering the off-brand space and the discount space. Amazon announced that they will be opening a 30,000 square foot department store, possibly focusing on the apparel category. Gandhi poses the question: “Could this be a threat to traditional department stores this holiday?”

4)    Personalization is Key

A successful, long-term relationship between a brand and consumer is built on trust. Brian Rants urges brands to send better, more personalized messages to customers to add additional value for them. Rants’ X-Factor is providing each customer with a personalized experience at each stage of the relationship. Showing customers that you understand them and telling them what they want to hear about will go a long way in creating sales and repeat customers.

Although consumers may not be willing to give up much personal data, it is crucial for brands to take advantage of the information they do provide. Incorporating as much data as possible while targeting customers will make that interaction even more personal. If you continue to use data in a respectful and proper manner, consumers will be willing to provide you with more useful data. Over 2,000 consumers were surveyed and only one-third claimed their messages from brands are personalized. Personalized marketing includes welcome messages, reminders of previously browsed products, post-purchase experience, and proactive messages regarding releases, delays, and other announcements.

5)    No Risk, More Reward

With the rise of e-commerce, the risk of customer dissatisfaction has increased. If it’s not possible for a customer to physically see or touch a product before making a purchase, consumers greatly value hassle-free return policies. Consumers are more comfortable trying new brands if the brands offer flexible and reasonable return policies. With return policies, customers are more likely to make a purchase because there’s less risk for them, therefore providing a better customer experience.

With e-commerce, providing the customer as much information as possible about a product will assist them with their purchase decision and lead to a good post-sale experience. Our award-winning Tap-a-Tech™ solution is key for ensuring that consumers receive enough information about a product to lead them to a purchase decision. Tap-a-Tech’s virtual one-on-one product demonstrations provide consumers with excellent customer service, product knowledge, and assistance in making a purchase.

We hope you enjoyed this episode of the HypeHour! What is your X-Factor this upcoming holiday season? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below or on Hype Hive’s social media:

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Transcription:

Speaker 1:

BDS presents The Hype Hour, with your host Andrew Catapano, Kelly Campbell. Featuring today’s special guest Hanoz Gandhi, Brian Rants, and Graham Anderson. Today’s topic: Connected Commerce, Part 3, Bringing The X-Factor For The Shopper Of Tomorrow. Here are your hosts. Let’s get started.

Andrew Catapano:         
All right. All right. All right.

Kelly Campbell:                
We’re here.

Andrew Catapano:         
Kelly Campbell, how are you doing?

Kelly Campbell:                
I’m good. How are you, Andrew?

Andrew Catapano:         
Fantastic. Can you believe it? 10 episodes in almost over a year, and we’re still standing. We’re still going live.

Kelly Campbell:                
We’re still here. I can’t believe it. It’s amazing. We made it to 10 episodes. This is going to be the best one yet, I think. We have some great guests, and I am so excited to go live with everybody again today.

Andrew Catapano:         
Well, let’s get to it, Kelly. When we first launched The Hype Hour way back, what seems like in the way back machine in 2020, our goal was to connect with industry leaders, provide connected solutions and ideas, have our finger on the pulse of understanding what was happening with retail, and to really hear from industry experts about what they were doing today with the common problems of today in retail, and to be forward-thinking on how other brands, other retailers could solve those problems as well through some industry information and updates. Today, we stand 10 episodes later, and we’re diving into one of the most important questions facing brands. How will you bring your X-Factor to the shoppers of tomorrow?

Kelly Campbell:                
Absolutely.

Andrew Catapano:         
What can you expect today, what the current shopping landscape looks like, how leaders are rising to the challenge, and creative ways where we can all bring our X-Factor. Kelly, what guests do we have on the show today?

Kelly Campbell:                
Well, I sure hope everybody’s ready to buckle up. They’ve gotten their vacations out of the way, and you’re ready to buckle up for Q4, because it’s going to be an interesting ride this year, I think. So today, we actually have a few great guests coming on board. We’ve got Hanoz Gandhi, SVP of technology and analytics at BDS. We’ve got Graham Anderson, North American field marketing and training manager from De’Longhi, very excited to have him on. And then Brian Rants, director of marketing at Cordial to wrap us up with some creative ideas.

Andrew Catapano:         
Ready to bring the X-Factor.

Kelly Campbell:                
I was wondering when this song was going to come on.

Andrew Catapano:         
All right, Hanoz Gandhi is our first guest coming into the studio. Is he not, Kelly?

Kelly Campbell:                
He is. He’s going to join both of us to talk a little bit more about his experience, but then also what to expect for Q4 coming down the pipeline this year. It’s going to be potentially a crazy Q4, as we all know. Lots of balls up in the air. No one knows really what to expect, but maybe he can give us a little bit more insight into what’s coming down the pipeline for fans, for retailers, for shoppers, just in general. So, we’re going to have him on. He’s the guru on it.

Andrew Catapano:         
He is officially the guru. Now Kelly, we can’t dive right in before discussing what is happening in your world. I mean, you’re about ready to bring another X-Factor into the world, are you’re not? This is your last show for the year. Sorry to see you go, but happy to understand the reason. You are ready to welcome a little baby into the world. Are you not?

Kelly Campbell:                
I don’t know about a little adult. That would be interesting. I won’t be really going anywhere long-term, but this will be my last show for this year. I am trading in the live stream lights for some hospital lights. I’ve got baby number two on the way, due in just a couple of weeks. I’m excited to just be here to wrap up this milestone 10th episode, and hopefully leave behind a few insights for our audience here.

Andrew Catapano:         
Working right up to the end. With that, let’s go ahead. Congratulations to you and your husband, your family, Kelly, truthfully, and let’s go ahead and bring Hanoz in here.

Kelly Campbell:                
All right. He’s here. Welcome.

Andrew Catapano:         
Mr. Gandhi, how are you doing?

Hanoz Gandhi:                 
Very good. How are you guys?

Andrew Catapano:         
Fantastic. Kelly, could we do a little introduction for Mr. Hanoz. Could we lead him in a little bit?

Kelly Campbell:                
Absolutely. Yeah. As I was saying, he is literally the guru on anything technology and analytics related. He’s got over 20 years’ experience in the industry, that’s given him this ability to unearth really great opportunities for not only our clients, but for brands and partners that we work with. He’s worked at organizations like Bose, Belkin, City Group, and most recently Creative Channel Services, which as of June, has officially joined forces with BDS. And we are so excited to have all of those people joining our BDS family, and we got Hanoz out of it. He’s one of them. So welcome. Welcome to BDS and to the show, Hanoz.

Hanoz Gandhi:                 
Thanks. Thank you so much. Congratulations, Kelly.

Kelly Campbell:                
Thanks.

Andrew Catapano:         
I actually did get a first chance to meet Mr. Hanoz at a leadership meeting, and we’ll get into one of the stories I have about him. But I will just start the show with, smart individual beyond, and I’m going to grill him on some questions that may fall out of his scope of what his day-to-day is, because Hanoz is one of the fortunate gentlemen or individuals to have a breadth of knowledge just beyond what he does for a day-to-day living and how he makes a paycheck. One of the smartest guys I’ve ever met, has his finger on the pulse of so many different things from financial to IT, to operations, and he’s just a heck of a guy to learn from for all different kinds of stuff. But I’ll tell the other story that I know about you later Hanoz. But I want to get right into it and ask you, how is this holiday season? Let’s give you a softball, but let’s put some bumpers on the lanes. How is this holiday season going to be different than last year? And with the caveat of, what will be the same?

Hanoz Gandhi:                 
Well, the good news, or the bad news, is it’s going to be worse, Andrew. We’ve got some of the same challenges. We’ve got some of the same challenges that existed last year with holiday, with the virus right now, but we’ve also got some major supply chain challenges. If last year was bad, this year is in the horrible camp, just to give you some small tidbits, right? Container ships are in such high demand. This is the best year to run a container ship business. They’ve never made money the way they’re making money right now. The cost of a container used to be about $6,000 a year ago. It’s now anywhere between $22,000 to $40,000.

Kelly Campbell:                
Wow, that’s amazing.

Graham:                             
And… sorry, go ahead.

Andrew Catapano:         
Well, so let me ask you. So, if I were to take… and I told you, I preface this with, I’m going to ask you questions outside of your day-to-day paycheck, and I appreciate you joining us on the show. It’s not only fighting for customers this holiday season, it’s fighting for product this holiday season, fighting for inventory. Brands know that. Retailers know that. And quite frankly, customers know that. So, in your opinion, how are brands and retailers understanding that they’re not only fighting for customers, but they’re fighting for inventory to provide to those customers because they got to still show incremental revenue over last year, right? They got to show they had a good holiday season, a good Black Friday. So, they’re normally focused on just acquiring the customer. But even if they acquired the customer, how are they going to fulfill that order? So how are we going to see maybe some different things happen? And what’s some ideas you might have in order to deal with that unique situation we’re faced with this year?

Hanoz Gandhi:                 
Yeah. So, I think you’re going to see fewer discounts. The large retailers are going to do well. They’re actually buying containers ships, so they’re basically getting their entire container ship dedicated to them. They are creating ports or buying access to ports in odd parts that normally wouldn’t be congested, like LA for example, and they are trying to manage the supply chain. But in their entirety, brands really have to make sure that a customer gets a product under the tree this year, or under the menorah. You want to make sure that you’ve got something, even if you can’t supply the product, whether it’s inventory issues, whether it’s shipping issues. Shipping issues are also coming up, right? FedEx and UPS have already announced their increases for this holiday season, by distributor, but also have this reality. USPS, which didn’t have surcharges last year, has already placed surcharges for shippers. So, this massive choke point is getting to people’s homes, and having something to deliver and put under the tree, is going to be huge opportunity. I see this with sellers, individual sellers, that are going to take advantage of this, putting together packages that people can have under the tree for their customers. Brands themselves trying to find solutions that give them that type of advantage so that customers don’t leave empty handed. And it’s a great way to sell a future service. If you’ve got a product and a subscription service attached to it, here’s a way to get people something under the tree, the subscription, even before the product gets to their home, for example.

Kelly Campbell:                
Yeah. Really interesting. Oh Andrew, you have your sound off. We knew we were going to get there at some point.

Andrew Catapano:         
Can you hear me now? Sorry. I think there’s an echo coming from my mic.

Kelly Campbell:                
We always have one of these, just like any meeting that anybody has these days, you’ve always got one person who’s on mute, right?

Andrew Catapano:         
I think Mitch put me on mute because I think my microphone is echoing. Are we okay now? Is that all right? Better? Worse? Same? I’m going to put myself on mute when people are talking. But you talked for a second there, Hanoz, about getting something under the tree, getting something that you can unwrap. Let me ask you something. I said the customer knows we have supply chain problem, but do they really? I mean this, as my boss always tells me, sounds like a you problem, right? I mean, so the customers are going, “It sounds like a you problem. I want a dishwasher. I want an appliance. I want a pair of socks. I want jeans. I want a headset. Get it to me. It’s America. I should have it if I want it.”

So besides putting things under, giving them something they can unwrap, how do you think they’re going to acquire that customer, understanding that that supply chain is going to be depleted, get them something under the tree. Is there any other trend? Is there any other nuance? Is there any other thing that one, we should understand that we’re going to be dealing with, but two, how do we combat that?

Hanoz Gandhi:                 
So, I think customers have started getting trained on this. There was a big question last year where the customer just started buying early. We saw that in 2020, around Mother’s Day, when COVID hit and you couldn’t get to a store, we saw this huge peak in ordering for Mother’s Day. It peaked the Saturday before Mother’s Day. I’m sorry, a week before Mother’s Day, seven days before Mother’s Day, last year. This year, do you know when Mother’s Day peak was? The Sunday of Mother’s Day, which is typically the peak. So, customers usually wait until the last minute to buy stuff. And last year they were concerned because of what was happening to COVID, and we saw that show up in holiday last year as well.

So, customers are starting to recognize that supply chain is becoming an issue. They’re starting to see that communicated on retailers’ websites, and they’re going to see fewer sales. That’s going to really be something that’s actually going to push holiday out for some people. They’re going to wait for the better sales. But I think the reality is you’re going to see fewer of those this year, except for maybe the new brands or the off-brands, the tier two, tier three brands. So, the opportunity for those brands is going to be to try to grab a share when a tier one brand is out of supply, out of inventory. And that’s what brands we work with should really be looking for. How do I make sure I don’t lose a customer to a second or third tier competitor that are coming in to try to take my market share? Because that’s the biggest threat.

Kelly Campbell:                
Absolutely. I have a question actually, because I know this is something that we are talking about today. It’s about this X-Factor, going above and beyond today, and what doing today to try to meet expectations, which is a lot for every brand. But in your opinion, what do you think will give brands the biggest X-Factor? Not only going into the holidays, but maybe even looking towards 2022 right now. Anything that you think you can pin your insights on?

Hanoz Gandhi:                 
Well, 2022 has some really interesting trends coming around. So, one of the interesting trends, we’re going to continue to see retail reshape itself. What people do in retail is happening on a constant basis. They’re changing. Look at our behaviors individually, right? You don’t have to look at some third party’s data storage, just look at your own behavior. What are you doing more of and what are you doing less of? You’re not thinking about channel. You’re thinking about where to try and touch your product and where to buy a product. And that’s going to continue. Retailers are recognizing this and you’re going to see a lot more experiences. There’s also going to be a transformation that’s coming in the off-brand space, and the tier three and the discount space. So, Amazon, buried in some of their announcements recently, is that they’re opening up a department store. The department store concept, but it’s a 30,000 square foot department store.

Kelly Campbell:                
That’s great.

Hanoz Gandhi:                 
And so, the real guess is that they’re going to focus in on the apparel category there, because most department stores are larger than 30,000 square feet. The real interesting question is… Sorry, do you have something?

Kelly Campbell:                
No, I’m taking it all in. Keep going. Give us some more.

Hanoz Gandhi:                 
The really interesting question is, is that going to be a threat to Macy’s or JC Penney’s, the traditional department store? Or is that going to be a threat to TJ Maxx, Home Goods, dollar stores? And the guess is, when you look at the amount of inventory that’s getting back returned in the online space, this could be a perfect exit opportunity to clear out inventory without losing share to some of these competitors that Amazon actually hasn’t vertically challenged. So, you’re going to see that large trend happening, and that’s going to spread beyond apparel, looking out into 2021, 2022, I should say.

Kelly Campbell:                
I was going to say, we have an audience question that I want to make sure we get to that’s really good. So, she’s asking, “Has this dynamic made customers more bendy to looking at new brands?” Do you have any thoughts around that?

Hanoz Gandhi:                 
Yes. I love that word bendy, first of all. That’s d. Yeah, I think customers are getting much more comfortable with trying new bands, partly because the retailer is taking the risk out of it for them. If you’re unsatisfied with the new brand, most retailers will make it a better experience for you by giving you the option to return it, exchange it, do something. Even in the grocery category, you’ll see this taking off, right? How many times do you go to a store after you bought something and not liked it and said, “Hey, I want to return it.” This is a growing trend in the grocery space, the number of people returning and saying, I just didn’t like that product. And online grocery is really enabling it. So, you’re going to see more of that happening. And as people get used to it in every category, the risk to trying new things is going to go down. So, both lack of inventory or lack of availability of the exact thing you want, plus retailers know that’s how they keep loyalty from a customer perspective.

Andrew Catapano:         
That’s exactly what we saw in the rent to own space. In the digital marketing here in Columbus, we do a lot of rent to own, a lot of rent to own doors. Aaron’s, Rent-A-Center, they saw this huge bump when the furniture supply chain closed down, when the consumer electronics supply chain closed down, when the appliances closed down, rent to own had all this inventory and they found themselves opened up to a whole other customer.

Another topic for another show is what I will ask you is, and put this in the back of your head, how do what we call this surprise audience to these brands, how do those brands keep that audience after the supply chain opens back up and they want to go back to their more familiar brand? But the brand goes, “Hey, wait a second. I was here to go to the dance with you. Now you want to date your old girlfriend again? What about me?” Right. So, I think that at the end of the day, I think a great topic for next show is, how does that accidental audience to those brands stay with those brands? Right? So, I think that would be interesting. But if you have a comment on that, I’ll let you have it, and then we got to go. But otherwise, I’m telling my granola story.

Hanoz Gandhi:                 
Go. Go with your granola story.

Andrew Catapano:         
I will give you this in 30 seconds. I had a privilege of meeting Mr. Hanoz Gandhi at a leadership meeting we had a couple of months ago, and one of the most, as you could see, prolific intelligent men, I’m so glad to have him on this team. But if you have the chance to sit next to him and watch him eat some of those food items that you see around conferences, granola bars, granola, blueberries, he is literally one of the most methodical eaters. And growing up in an Italian household with a big father, if I left something on the table for that long, it was going in his mouth. So, watching a man eat at that pace, I was a little bit resentful that you were able to have learned that somewhere along your life. But maybe I should learn how to eat a little slower, and I won’t be as vertically challenged as you just mentioned, not too long ago. But Hanoz, heck of a guy. So nice to see ya. He’s got a little bit of a DMX look to him, doesn’t he?

Andrew Catapano:         
I wasn’t going to ask you to rap, I’ll tell you that. Hanoz, great to see you. We’ll see on the next show. See you now.

Hanoz Gandhi:                 
All right. Thanks.

Kelly Campbell:                
That’s awesome.

Andrew Catapano:         
Great, great guy.

Kelly Campbell:                
I swear, we’re not doing X-Factor here, even though we are Hype Hour, episode 10 talking about the X-Factor, we are definitely not doing a talent show here today.

Andrew Catapano:         
We’re going to pass on that. Kelly, I’m going to take a break. I’m going to see if I can’t get these mic things figured out, because I don’t want to see you have an echo anymore. You’re taking on the next guest anyway, so a perfect time for me to dip out for a second, and enjoy our next guest. See you in a few.

Kelly Campbell:                
All right. Well, I am so excited to bring on Graham Anderson next to our conversation. He’s a veteran in the retail industry, and he’s going to be chatting a little bit more about De’Longhi’s newest campaign. I’m so excited. I hope all of you have actually seen this out there. Maybe it’s because I’m a big fan of who they’ve gotten in the campaign, but what leaders should consider as they go to market with something like a new campaign to meet today’s current consumer expectations. And of course, we’re going to ask him again, what he thinks the X-Factor will be for brands at retail long-term. So, let’s bring on Graham to talk a little bit more with us about this.

Graham:                             
Hey, Kelly.

Kelly Campbell:                
Hi Graham.

Graham:                             
Hey, how are you?

Kelly Campbell:                
Good. How are you doing?

Graham:                             
Couldn’t be better, frankly.

Kelly Campbell:                
That’s awesome. You know, I have been noticing the background, the artwork behind you every time we see each other on video. I love it. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Graham:                             
I can. That is thanks to my three-year-old daughter. She made the De’Longhi logo as part of our Take Your Kids Virtually to Work Day, that we had in the company. And then my youngest daughter, who’s almost two years old, she did a couple of drawings for me, so I get to display it in my background.

Kelly Campbell:                
That’s amazing. I love it. It’s such a creative expression of your brand. So with that, tell us a little bit about your role at De’Longhi. What do you oversee? What’s your world like?

Graham:                             
Oh, it’s an ever-changing world, frankly.

Kelly Campbell:                
Sure.

Graham:                             
I have COVID to thank for that. But I look after essentially anything that happens at retail across North America. So whether that’s training, or that’s our field marketing program, our merchandising program, all of that sort of falls under my team. And so, as you know Kelly, we’ve partnered with you in the US to run our field marketing program. We also partnered with you guys on merchandising, so launching a new product at retail. We need to get into a thousand doors. How do we do that quickly? How do we get our displays set up? And then, frankly, probably more importantly, how do we go back and audit that things are still set up to our expectations?

There’s inventory, there is pricing there, and so that’s really been a huge part of my role specifically over the last number of years, to really help propel the brand, and just ensure that when the customer shows up at retail, they’re getting that same premium experience that we’re hopefully giving them online as well. So, whether they’re shopping online with us on our own website or on the retailer website, we want to make sure that they have a very consistent brand experience with us across all De’Longhi group brands, because it’s not just De’Longhi that we look after. We also have the Braun brand appliances, Kenwood branded appliances, and we’re also a partnering with Nespresso.

Kelly Campbell:                
Nice. I mean, so many crazy things have happened over the past year, and I know De’Longhi has piloted quite a few different types of campaigns and solutions to really provide the customer with that out of the box experience. So, I mean, maybe you can shed some light about what factored into those decisions to try something new? What made you just decide to go for it? We’re now almost two years into this. Is it getting more comfortable to make those types of decisions? Walk us through that.

Graham:                             
Yeah. So, I mean, a lot of our products are really premium products, and so we’re asking the customer to really make a considered purchase and invest their hard earned money into our products. And so, when COVID really hit, we had already been sort of investigating some ways that we could help customers sort of experience our products in a virtual setting. COVID hit the gas pedal, and sort of more or less forced us to do it a lot faster than we had anticipated. But I do need to say that at De’Longhi, we’re an entrepreneurial company, we’re always trying new things. And that’s one of the main reasons I continue to love my job and continue to love the company is that they give us the ability to try these things. One of the biggest things that we’ve added to our dot com has been our virtual demo program that we run with you guys. And that has really propelled our online business and our online experience. Customers can now in their pajamas log into our website and see a live demonstration of a $1000 espresso machine that we have set up in a studio, and they can ask their questions and they can get educated on the product, and make a considered and informed purchase. And so, we talk about returns being a big problem. Here’s a really easy way that we can reduce those returns. We get to educate the customer and make sure they find the right product that’s for them, and then also help them along the way. Once they do get it home, here are the steps you need to take to make sure it’s meeting your expectations and you’re loving the product, so that you’re not returning it. So that’s one major thing that we’ve added. I would also say something unexpected that’s combined with that, as we saw stores starting to reopen and people go back into stores, there wasn’t the same level of staff in those locations. So, retailers that had an assisted selling environment may not have had as many associates on the floor to support customers. And so what we saw was this trend of customers in the store, on our website, trying to get more information, and then we’re giving them that option to speak to somebody who represents our brand while they’re in the store. And so that’s something that has really kind of bloomed out of this pandemic, and it’s something that has gone a long way to driving our business.

Kelly Campbell:                
I love that. For anybody watching, if you have a chance to go to De’Longhi’s website and check it out, it’s so cool. The technology, the integration, and just the experience is so unique. I personally have done it, and it’s really fun. I wish I could be there in person drinking the coffee or hand it through the screen, because I’m sure it smells great when they make it. They probably have tons of extras. But so many cool things that you guys have been able to do with that, but then also, I mean, leading into this next campaign that you guys just launched. De’Longhi just launched its first international campaign, for those of you who don’t know, with this award-winning cast featuring… can I say the name?

Graham:                             
You can officially say it now, Kelly.

Kelly Campbell:                
Yes. It’s Brad Pitt. He’s the brand’s global ambassador. So exciting. Can you shed a little bit more light about maybe what went into this campaign, and just give us a little sneak peek?

Graham:                             
Yeah, absolutely. So obviously, an extremely exciting time for us here at De’Longhi. Really the strategy behind the campaign started with us looking at the core of our global business. Obviously, we play in a lot of different categories across the world, but the core of our business has always been and continues to be coffee. And we wanted to figure out, how can we bring this Italian tradition to more homes around the world. And so, we were really looking for an ambassador who has an international presence, but at the same time, somebody that shares our corporate values and passion towards coffee. What’s so cool is that Brad, he’s just an intense coffee drinker himself. Three cappuccinos, at least, a day, a shot of espresso in the afternoon if he’s having a tough day. And he really does bring together very different people across the globe, just like coffee does. And we also really do share that authenticity and excellence. Through working with Brad and making this campaign and this commercial, we really saw a true professional and perfectionist. And so it goes really hand in hand with the tagline of the new campaign, which is “Perfecto, espresso made right. And perfecto, of course, Italian for perfect. It’s really finding that perfect moment. And if you do watch the ad spot, you notice at the end, he kind of has this very busy day, he’s just wanting his freshly brewed coffee, and finally gets a chance to take a sip, and it’s perfecto. It’s perfect. And so, for those of you that haven’t watched the spot, I would obviously recommend that you check it out. One of the other questions is why now?

Kelly Campbell:                
Yeah.

Graham:                             
Why do this at the moment? And frankly, we have really seen unprecedented growth in our global coffee business, really as a primary result of people spending more time in their homes, my office and myself included, and trying to replicate that out-of-home coffee experience in their home. And so we just really wanted to capitalize on that shift in consumer behavior, and needing somebody who could get that word out for us. And who better than Mr. Brad Pitt?

Kelly Campbell:                
Absolutely. I know I’m one of those consumers at the end of the day, just like all of us here are consumers. I have been recreating that coffee experience, or at least attempting, at home since the pandemic. I’m probably not as good as your local barista, but getting there, thanks to the help of De’Longhi, of course.

Graham:                             
Of course.

Kelly Campbell:                
We talk a lot about connected commerce here at BDS and being really everywhere the customer is. Did that have to factor into your thinking? Did you have to think differently about going into the market with this campaign than previous ones that you’ve done in the past? Maybe give us a little insight there.

Graham:                             
Yeah. We had to do, actually, a number of things. First off, this was a global campaign, launching at the same point of time across the world. So, you have to imagine all the things that need to come together so that everybody’s primed and ready to go when you officially drop the news. And so a couple of the major things, specifically in North America, that we had to just reconsider was, yes we’re going to invest in traditional media. We’re going to invest in TV. But how are we really going to blow this up on digital? And advertising where customers are browsing and shopping, and really just getting the word out that way was something very different from previous campaigns that we’ve launched. We also wanted to make sure that it was a flawless launch across all different touch points. So you arrive at our dot com site. Maybe you see the commercial spot, you see Brad, you see the feel that comes through in the commercial spot, the excitement, and then you log on our website and you see the exact same imagery and machines, and everything sort of ties in together. And then you need to make sure that when the customer actually goes to shop the item, that they have that same premium experience. The imagery is premium. The lifestyle images are there. The content is there. The videos are there, so that they can get educated on the product. And so, making sure that all of these different things are lined up. I can just say hats off to our crew around the world. I think they did an absolutely phenomenal job. We also launched a brand new website in tandem with this campaign. So, it was just a huge, massive undertaking, but it all seems to have gone exceptionally well.

Kelly Campbell:                
Absolutely. I must be getting retargeted. I think I told you that before. Now that I liked something, I keep seeing it everywhere. So now I want a new machine. That’s my own problem. The one question that we ask everybody, and I want to wrap it up here, so many great insights. Looking at this upcoming holiday season, going into next year, what do you think will be the biggest X-Factor going forward with consumers? I want to get your take on that one.

Graham:                             
So, I’ll give a two-part answer. Unfortunately, I have to agree with Hanoz on this one. Inventory, inventory, inventory. Huge challenges there for all the reasons that Hanoz spoke about. I would highly recommend, if you see something you like, you think it’s going to make a perfect gift for a loved one, don’t sit around and wait. There is huge constraints, specifically on inventory. So the X-Factor is being in stock, in the right places for your customers to find you. As we move out of Q4 and into future, I think what we’re seeing is we really want to blend that offline and online experience for the customer. So, setting expectations and delivering on those expectations, whether the customer is in a retail environment, or is at home shopping online, you want to make sure you have that very consistent approach. A lot of our products are very experiential, so we want to make sure that the customer has the ability to experience those, whether it’s virtually, or if they happen to be in the store, that they can experience those products in live person as well. And so, blending those experiences, I touched on it earlier. Customers in a store, give them the opportunity to experience the product virtually while they’re in that shopping environment, and really support that sale all the way through. And so I think that, for us, will be our X-Factor as we get into 2022 and beyond.

Kelly Campbell:                
Oh, great. That actually brings me to one thing I forgot to mention earlier, which is at the very end of this show, I’m so excited. Speaking of holiday shopping and getting products now versus later, we are giving away a De’Longhi coffee machine, coffee espresso maker, at the very end of this show to one lucky registrant, who registered prior to us going live at 4:30. So for everybody watching, please stick around, because you never know, it might be you. But with that, thank you so much, Graham, for coming on. So many great insights. I’m excited for you and your brands and everything that’s to come for that. So thanks for joining us.

Graham:                             
Thank you so much, Kelly. It’s a pleasure as always.

Kelly Campbell:                
Thanks. All right. Well, we’re going to bring Andrew back in here to talk a little bit about what we just heard, but then also move on to some other guests, our final guest for today.

Andrew Catapano:         
I got a chance to spend some time with Graham when we started launching and did some other stuff. Graham is a very innovative young man. And I like what De’Longhi does in terms of, if they see an opportunity, they go after it. There’s not a lot of board room chatter about, well, what if, what if, what if. They were one of the first people to latch onto our innovations, and they’re seeing all these returns and the good customer reviews and the experiential nature of it. And I always enjoy working with Graham because he’s a ready, ready, fire, aim type of individual. I haven’t met many people from De’Longhi, but I have to assume it’s a ready, fire, aim type of company, which is an excellent way to adapt into this digital transformative post COVID world. So very impressive young man, and it was a great guest to have on the show. One question one of our producers came in and asked. What do you think the over-under is on what they had to pay Mr. Pitt in order to do that?

Kelly Campbell:                
I would love to know the same question. You got a good mix of people talking about espresso these days. Brad and George Clooney. It’s a good amount of people.

Andrew Catapano:         
That’s a lot of beans that probably had to go his way, I’ll tell you that right now.

Kelly Campbell:                
A lot.

Andrew Catapano:         
Anyway. All right, let’s bring on our next guest. Heck of a guest. Thanks, Kelly. Let’s bring on our next guest, who is a great guy and should have his own podcast, to be honest with you. His name is Brian Rants, and I’m not quite sure how a guy named Brian Rants does not have his own podcast. But hopefully after this show, he will have one. Brian is a veteran marketing strategist, works for Cordial and helps their prospects, clients, and team members understand and make the most out of Cordial services and what they do. Previously worked at IBM, started another digital marketing division of multiple organization. He is prototyped, constructed, and brought to market a variety of products and services for agencies and their clients. Heck of a guy. I got to meet him before this show. That is causing a glare from the lights. I don’t want to disturb people with that. So we’ll move that. Let’s bring in Mr. Rants and see what he has to rant about.

Brian Rant:                         
I appreciate it, man. Yeah, I’ll definitely think on the podcast thing. I think everybody’s going to be a little disappointed that Brad Pitt didn’t join here, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to settle for me.

Andrew Catapano:         
Wouldn’t that have been something? If you had a Brad Pitt mask on or something.

Brian Rant:                         
I should’ve been prepared. Next time. Next time

Andrew Catapano:         
It seems like a miss. It seems like a miss, Brian. I’m not going to lie to you. There’s the first topic of your podcast: misses and things I wish I had done. There you go. I’m giving you your first topic. Brian, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do at cordial, what makes you an important guy to listen to. Tell us a little bit about what’s going on in your world?

Brian Rant:                         
Yeah. Sounds good. Appreciate it. Yeah, I’ve worked both on the agency side and then now on the software side, in both sales and marketing. And specifically was drawn to Cordial because I had used some of the email marketing platforms that came about and were created in the late nineties, and saw how they were built for this age of one to everyone, but increasingly customers were demanding one-to-one. And so, what Cordial saw is that these marketers were adding in more platforms for triggers or mobile channels, and they were using three, four, five different platforms. And the customer experience is about what you expect, not great, pretty disconnected. And so at Cordial, I work with brands like Eddie Bauer, Revolve, 1-800-CONTACTS to help them to unify that customer data, and then to use that to personalize any type of message on any of the channels that they’re using.

Andrew Catapano:         
All right, so you just hit a hot button for me right there. Being, obviously, a leader in digital marketing, having to eat, breathe, and eat it my whole life, most of my adult life, understanding the data and personal data is so important to directly marketing to a person as an individual, especially in this day and age. But there’s a tipping point in between a customer wanting personalized messaging, wanting personalized content, and willing to give up that data to you in order to personalize it for you. How do you solve it?

Brian Rant:                         
Yeah. Yeah, it’s a great question. And I think, when you and I were connecting earlier, I think a helpful way to think about this is as a relationship. I mean, the relationship you have with a brand may not be the same level or type of relationship that you would have with your partner, your kids, your neighbor, but it is a relationship and relationships are ultimately built on trust. And so I think brands, great brands like De’Longhi and others, have figured out how to take whatever data that you do share with them and use it respectfully and in a timely and thoughtful way. I mean, part of why we reasonably named ourselves Cordial is to really send a better message, one that’s more personal, not just personalized, not just taking everything I know and chasing you, but actually thinking what is the thing that would be most helpful to you at this stage of evaluating our products, to help you understand how we could add value. And so we think that personal approach builds trust and then lets them share even more information that you can use to make it even more personal.

Andrew Catapano:         
When we were rehearsing for this show, and you started down and you were starting down some of this kind of context and thought process, and you know I gravitated to it. I don’t want our viewers to miss this point because it was one of the most prolific things that someone had said on this show, about being trustworthy with the data that you have. But what does that really mean? So let’s dive into that just a little bit, because you made a comment when you said, listen. And I won’t take it from you. You signed up for an email, something happened. Tell us that story because that’s what brings it home. So listen to what he’s about to say. This is how you protect data, and this is how you build trust. Go ahead, Brian.

Brian Rant:                         
Yeah. Well, I remember I had a business school professor that said you never have to recover from a great start. Or another way of looking at it is, it’s hard to shake a first impression. Right? And so I remember I went to a brand’s website. I liked the brand. I still like the brand and their products. When I went to their site, they asked me to sign up. They asked some additional questions beyond just my name and email, which I’m okay with, but this was an opportunity to test that trust. They asked for gender and then what I was looking for, and I indicated I was interested in men’s shoes. And the first email I received was about women’s apparel. Right? And so immediately that broke that trust. You asked me for additional information, I disclosed it, and you didn’t even use it on the first message you sent me. So from the very start, being able to say, I’m going to take the data you give us, and I’m going to show you that I was listening. That’s where that trust begins.

Andrew Catapano:         
I think that is such a genius point, and it’s one of those things that you are so right. When I sign up for a mailing list, and the first thing I get is something I didn’t even think about, care about, a question I didn’t even answer on their survey, and they hit me with something I would not even be interested in. But that first one that even personalizes it with, obviously the easy win is my name and your birthday’s coming up, or we saw you looking at some. That to me is the key, because there is this barrier between people wanting personalization, but not willing to give up the personal data in order to get it. But what Brian is saying, and I hate to keep beating a dead horse here, but it’s so important, and you had the light bulb go off when we talked. If you do get a micro site, whatever it is, a microbe of information from a customer, they’re willing to give you something, use it. And if you do it right, they’ll give you more. Is that the feedback?

Brian Rant:                         
Yeah, that’s it. And beyond our personal experiences, we actually have some data. So we’re going to be releasing the cross channel marketing study later this month heading into early October. And we surveyed over 2000 consumers, and only one out of three indicated that the messages they receive are personalized. So that lets us know the growth opportunity for this peak season coming is immense. And if you can, as simple as a welcome message, use the products they browse, use the categories they browse, make the welcome message personalized to what they’ve already shown you they’re interested in, find that one data point, personalize it, and start building that trust.

Andrew Catapano:         
Through this past year, tell me about the messaging, because we touched on it a little bit. Obviously it’s the easy stuff. If I’m browsing stuff, you know what to pay, you hit me on it with a cookie, you got my tiny URL, you understand exactly what I’m looking at, and I abandoned a cart, you send me that. That’s the easy stuff. But what kind of messaging and content? What have we learned over the past year? Where are we going? What kind of messaging are consumers really craving right now?

Brian Rant:                         
Yeah, I can think of two. One is kind of marketer led and the other is kind of customer led. One of our great clients, Purple Mattress brand realized that because now people were spending so much time sitting in that old chair from college. Didn’t matter, now you’re sitting in it 10 hours a day, educating your kids and working on zoom calls. They found a whole new segment seat cushions that was an afterthought, that became multi a hundred percent quarter over quarter growth heading into the year. So being able to adapt. Like you said, I love the ready, fire, aim. What else? What could you test through your messages to see that there may be a category you’re not even thinking of that could arise? So that’s kind of the marketer led.

And then the second aspect ties into what your previous guests said, and that is the post-purchase experience. So, we’ve seen great brands like Bob’s Discount Furniture last year with inventory concerns and then the impact of snow and weather, it was just a confluence of things, being very proactive to customers about what to expect when there are delays, when it’s coming, and having very one-to-one messages in that post-purchase experience. So, I think those two are finding new products, but then also serving the people that bought from you well are going to be huge.

Andrew Catapano:         
All right. So that’s forward-thinking. Let’s go back in time just a little bit. And I’d like to understand from your perspective, what were some of the brands you’ve worked with? What were the biggest challenges they faced last year? And what advice might you give to the leaders of similar brands? Or even still to those brands, maybe they didn’t listen to you the first time. What are you going to reinforce with them or educate brands on that says here’s how you solve that problem because I’ve seen it already?

Brian Rant:                         
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I guess I’ll just have to piggyback on the brilliance of Hanoz on this one and talking about keeping your market share. Again, so we’ve seen great companies like Purple, where they were really thoughtful about upselling and cross-selling. So, when they came out with the new generation of sheets, rather than letting that business leak to someone else, they were able to retain that. And so, the brands that are able to, again, if they are DTC, have a little more control over inventory, get that market share, how are you going to keep it? Is there a next generational project? Is there an adjacent product like they had with their seat cushions? But ultimately that all comes back to data. Data on your customers, combined with business data such as inventory and creating an experience that is personalized for each customer.

Andrew Catapano:         
All right. Brian, you got to get that podcast because I’ve enjoyed listening to you. That personalization stuff you’ve given us, we could do a whole Hype Hour on that. But I think maybe I took the answer to this last question of what could be the biggest X-Factor that brands, or retailers could implement this year or what consumers are going to crave. But I’ll ask you, I’ll put you on the spot, because we’re asking everybody, and that’s the name of the show today. What is the biggest X-Factor that you think brands or retailers can bring to their consumers this year, this holiday season?

Brian Rant:                         
I think whether it’s DTC or traditional, it’s to show customers that you understand them, that you understand what they want to hear about when they want to hear about it. And that starts with data and finding another data point to personalize each message in each stage of the relationship with the customer.

Andrew Catapano:         
I love it. And I’m going to hit that horse one more time, and I’m going to tell you, if you do get a piece of data, if you’re lucky enough to get the personalization data, don’t waste it. All right, Brian, absolute pleasure having you on the show. You’ve been a heck of a guest and I look forward to getting to learn. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve met a bunch of people these last 10 episodes, and everyone seems better than the last, but you are closing out episode number X, and glad to see you and hope to see on another show.

Brian Rant:                         
Sounds good. Thanks so much.

Andrew Catapano:         
All right.

Kelly Campbell:                
Wow.

Andrew Catapano:         
Mrs. Campbell.

Kelly Campbell:                
I can’t believe it. So many great insights. It was such a good, I think we’re all just looking forward to the next chapter in this journey, right? We’ve made it a to 10 episodes. We have talked about a lot of different things, and we have been on this journey altogether with our audience through this whole COVID pandemic. We’re here. We’ve made it almost two years now. How does it feel Andrew? Anything that you can share? What do you think is going to be the biggest X-Factor?

Andrew Catapano:         
I will tell you. I think that from my perspective, I mean, everyone kind of was building on each episode, each guest, moving forward. Brands who found an accidental audience that came to them because of supply chain, because of closed retail stores, for whatever reason, lack of inventory, who were able to connect digitally that other brick and mortar stores weren’t able to connect with, or other brick and mortar stores that were able to connect with, this accidental audience, keeping that accidental audience, catering to them, so you can continue to build in 2022 with the audience that you accidentally achieved in 2021, that to me is going to be the X-Factor. Because I think there’s some brands retail say, they’ll come back. But if the accidental audience brand or retailer does a good job of keeping them and cultivating them, I’m not so sure about that.

Kelly Campbell:                
They may not be back. That’s a great. They may not be back, so you got to go search out some new fans, or definitely try to retain the ones that you do have. That’s a great.

Andrew Catapano:         
That’s right. Back at you Ms. Campbell. What’s your X-Factor?

Kelly Campbell:                
Ooh. My X-Factor is, well, I come from more of a content standpoint, so I think great content that actually converts and helps the journey instead of hinders the journey, I think that’s going to be the X-Factor going into next year and will be here for the long term, for sure. I think we’re still scraping the surface of what content can do for brands, whether you are a B-to-B brand, whether you are a B to C brand. And I know we’ve talked about this a lot, but content creation is the biggest Achilles heel for most brands, and creating enough for people to consume, and to keep that journey going. So I think that’s going to be the biggest X-Factor for those who can win the game.

Andrew Catapano:         
Forget Bitcoin. We’re going to start trading content, because it is absolutely the new currency.

Kelly Campbell:                
Absolutely.

Andrew Catapano:         
Consumers crave it more than you would ever imagine, and it’s the hardest thing for a brand or retailer sometimes to produce. Kelly, I think we have something to give away before we close the show.

Kelly Campbell:                
We sure do. I know we’re running out of time, but it’s that time for a giveaway. We’re very excited to announce the special winner of our De’Longhi giveaway. And this one lucky person will receive a De’Longhi espresso machine. And just a reminder, in order to win, you must have registered for The Hype Hour prior to us going live at 4:30 PM today. So sorry for everybody who’s just registering now. You’re not in the running. Also, our lovely BDS family unfortunately is not in the running as well. Although we do appreciate you tuning in for this episode. But we do have a winner and I’m going to announce them live here. It is Brian. So if you are on, put a comment in the chat. If not, we will connect with you after the show to get you your lucky prize.

Andrew Catapano:         
Brian. I know him. Fantastic, Brian. I actually pulled the name though, Kelly. I think you got it wrong. I think you’ve pulled a Steve Harvey. I pulled Brad Pitt.

Kelly Campbell:                
If only Brad Pitt was on to accept this.

Andrew Catapano:         
No, I said I think we’ve got to correct that. It was Brad Pitt. I think he’s got enough to buy his own coffee maker. I will tell you that.

Kelly Campbell:                
I hope so. I hope he actually got a few out of the deal, right?

Andrew Catapano:         
Oh my goodness. I hope he got more than a few. I was talking to my wife. I said, man, I saw the behind the scenes, the same one you did, where he was doing the motorcycle ad. I’m sorry, I’m not a jealous individual. I have no idea how that guy keeps getting better looking. Man, he’s an attractive young man.

Kelly Campbell:                
That’ll be our next show, is figuring out how we can look like that.

Andrew Catapano:         
Hey, what? I’m surprised De’Longhi didn’t ask me, to be honest with you. Look at this guy. You kidding me? Put him on a motorcycle, give him some coffee. All right, Kelly. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Kelly Campbell:                
Thank you. I know, and as always to our audience here, make sure to follow BDS for ongoing insights on YouTube or on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, you name it. And then we’re actually going to do a post-show recap on Instagram, right after this. We’re going to talk through some of the insights we just heard. So if you want to hop over to Instagram and join us there, we’d love to have you. And make sure to also keep an eye out, to register for our final Hype Hour of the year in November. While I will not be there, we do have an amazing topic with some speakers lined up for that. It’s beyond the hybrid model, the big comeback for in-person experiences going into 2022. So hopefully we’ll get there, cross your fingers. And we’re excited. Hopefully, stay tuned for that one to come, but it has been a pleasure.

Andrew Catapano:         
Send us a picture of the little one. You will be here through… Him or her? Are we telling what it is?

Kelly Campbell:                
Oh, yeah. I got two boys, so my hands are going to be full.

Andrew Catapano:         
All right. With that, Kelly, wish you all the luck in the world.

Kelly Campbell:                
Thank you.

Andrew Catapano:         
You are one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, inside and out.

Kelly Campbell:                
Thank you. Thanks to everybody for joining us. And we’re so excited to wrap this one up.