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Disney exec spills on mobile loyalty efforts

October 29, 2013

Disney goes mobile

LITCHFIELD PARK, AZ –A Disney executive at the Mobile Shopping Fall Summit spoke about how the marketer is using both its branded mobile properties and third-party applications to build loyalty efforts.

During the “Providing Value In A Time of Shifting Expectation To Meet The Needs Of The New-Generation Shopper” panel, executives from Marriott, Home Shopping Network, StubHub and Disney discussed which tactics are working best at connecting consumers with online and offline experiences. In particular, the panel discussed some of the newer opportunities around mobile with augmented reality and virtual stores.

“Disney has a very loyal base of guests that love the brand and have continuously spent across the company,” said Fred Yeries, senior manager of mobile and digital innovation at Walt Disney Company, Burbank, CA. 

“We know that there is a sector of individuals who are always going to be a very very loyal who may have children or grandchildren, and who continually engage with us,” he said.

“So we have positioned our app specifically for this high-affinity guest. We’ve redone mobile Web for those casual buyers, but I think the third part of loyalty for us and the third part of strategy is partnerships.”

Mobile magic
One of the more interesting partnerships that Disney has is with mobile app shopkick to build up its loyalty efforts.

It is no surprise that consumers download and delete retail apps rapidly. Therefore, the value proposition with a third-party app is to offer consumers rewards for shopping in-store with an app that integrates with multiple retailers.

Compared to Disney’s group of app members that are more loyalty-based, the group that shopkick captures is a group that is more price sensitive and is not as brand-loyal.

The Disney executive also spoke about the opportunities involved for retailers in virtual stores.

Although there is a lot of talk around virtual stores, marketers need to leverage the correct technology for the right type of consumer.

Right now, the opportunity around virtual stores is less about creating a sales channel and more to build brand awareness rather than driving commerce.

“If it’s not the right place and the right kind of consumer, if they’re not in the shopping mindset, regardless of whether you have an amazing technology solution, you’re not going to get the sale, they’re not going to convert,” Mr. Yeries said.

Executives from Marriott, Cornerstone Brands, StubHub and Disney on the panel

New technologies
Bryon Colby, senior vice president of digital commerce at HSN’s Cornerstone Brands, West Chester, OH, also spoke on the panel about how the brand’s mobile strategy is evolving by focusing less on an all-app focus. 

Now the focus is more customer-based and finding ways that mobile provides value for shoppers.

The brand also relaunched its mobile app and site, but did not A/B test it. The company wanted to try rolling out an interactive, new checkout feature, but the feature was not well suited for Cornerstone Brands’ consumers.

Similar to other panelists’ opinions, messaging is increasingly playing a bigger role for Cornerstone Brands as a way to drive repeat consumers to mobile platforms.

For example, 50 percent of Cornerstone Brands’ emails are opened on mobile devices, meaning that the medium plays a key role in how the brand continually drives promotional awareness for both sales and helping consumers research.

Given the growth in mobile ownership, the Cornerstone Brands exec expects to see a bump in mobile traffic in January when consumers have new devices to play with as holiday gifts.

The brand is also doing some interesting work with augmented reality to add a digital component to its tried-and-true catalog marketing.

“We’ve been actively trying to focus on ‘OK, what’s some of what we do core as a company,” and one of the core things we do is we know how to do catalogs very well, and catalogs are still doing very well for us as a company,” Mr. Colby said.

“One app we did from that point is a catalog handy map for Ballard Designs,” he said. “Now when you’re reading through the catalog, you can hold your phone up to it and you can actually just see there the product reviews, so it’s merging both the online and offline channel. We felt, ‘OK, we are seeing there is a core value to the customer with it.'”

“Now if you see a couch in a catalog with this app, you can actually recommend additional pages in the catalog virtually in different colors and merchandise that you don’t get [in the catalog] because it may be cost prohibitive in running the business. We’re trying to take a little bit of technology both from our view as a company and then also what it’s going to do for the end user.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York 

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