24 October 2016
Casetify, a social design platform that helps create custom phone cases for users, has become a big hit. Photo:
Casetify, a social design platform that helps create custom phone cases for users, has become a big hit. Photo:

Selling in the digital era

If you have a brand to promote or an idea to offer, a viral marketing campaign on the Web can effectively and efficiently spread the message for you.

The aim is to inspire people to share your ideas and your products. If an online message goes viral, it can generate huge sales overnight.

Some brands have already got the taste of it. Here I’ll share some interesting notes on these firms.

Casetify was able to leverage users from Instagram and create a great application that allows people to customize their phone cases by incorporating their own photographs. It went viral over a short period of time, and celebrities like Jamie Oliver, Kobe Bryan became their fans. Casetify shipped over one million custom products to over 80 countries since it was founded in November 2011.

In another case, Hobbyking, a firm with a 15-year history, was able to create an online community with a group of remote control toy lovers where they share video and tips on the platform.

Triangl, which launched a line of neoprene bikinis in 2012, was another example of leveraging the Internet to achieve success. After luring celebrities such as Miley Cyrus and Kendall Jenner to wear its products, Triangl saw its sales zoom to US$25 million in just the second year.

Of course, there are many other global brands such as Airbnb and Uber that are utilizing shared resources and creating online communities.

It takes a lot of hard work to create a successful business and bring customers back again and again to a platform and prompt them to make purchases.

Whatever way a firm seeks to storm the world, it always boils down to some basic rules.

First of all, the company should have a unique idea or product to show the world. It should fill a gap in the market and spread the message.

Leveraging social media

“It is certainly a tough job for social media executives,” says Anders Heikenfeldt, COO of the firm behind the brand “6ixty8ight”.

“Turning O2O (online to offline) and offline to online and making it profitable is still a big issue for many brands. Recruiting the right caliber person is one thing, getting the social media manager to understand the brand is another.”

“6ixty8ight” is a fast-growing brand. It recently opened 8 retail stores in Hong Kong despite a downturn in the local retail sector. And in the past 12-18 months, the firm set up 38 stores in five cities within China.

The brand was able to attract young customers in a very short period of time and gain sales revenue offline.

Heikenfeldt feels that physical stores would eventually become places for customers to hang out and interact while the actual orders would be placed online from mobile devices. 

His firm spends a lot of time on reviewing online posts on various social media platforms.

Right endorsement

Getting the right people to endorse your products seems to be an effective way to get sales going. In the sports goods industry, it has already been a tradition to get top athletes to back your goods.

The most notable athlete endorsement deal in history was that struck 30 years ago by Nike with professional basketball player Michael Jordan. The contract, which was initially worth US$500,000 a year, nets the sports superstar around US$60 million a year now.

The Nike deal certainly proved that getting the right people on your side helps a brand to flourish. However, not every firm will be able to spend huge amounts of money on celebrity endorsements. For such firms, they could consider using innovative technologies to gain quick traction.

One should note that fashion brands like Forever 21, H&M, Zara have seen their online businesses move slowly, while latecomers like Daniel Wellington and Nastygal were able to sustain their online stores and achieve fast growth through mobile shopping apps.

It is technology and online marketing that determines a company’s fortunes in the new era, rather than the traditional way of reaching your customers. 

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Senior Manager, APAC Merchandising and Strategic Marketing, eBay

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