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“We Need to Get Out of Our Own Way”: Lessons from Drapers Digital Festival 2019

“Digital should be about helping us get out of our own way”

said Stephanie Peterson, VP Digital at Adidas as she opened this year's Drapers Digital Festival.

HVO Founder, Maria Hvorostovsky, presenting the award for Best Digital Innovation to George@Asda

The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Peterson launched the Drapers Digital Festival last week by acknowledging the Fourth Industrial Revolution i.e. the convergence of digital, biological, and physical innovations, such as AI and facial-recognition.

With this, comes a move from B2B to B2C sales, requiring a shift from selling to listening. Instead of 'push' mechanisms, digital platforms should therefore now be focusing on 'pull' mechanisms.

This requires a whole new way of working - new talent, new org structures, new technology, new processes and new brand strategies.

The 1:1 Consumer Experience

With millennials demanding new shopping experiences and generation Z having a completely different agenda, what worked 5 years ago, what works now, and what will work in the future requires brands to embrace radically different, and sometimes opposing, strategies.

The common thread is the need to leverage digital to develop a direct relationship with the consumer. This requires a dramatic shift from siloed to holistic consumer journeys.

As Peterson highlighted: “Gone are the days of throwing mud at the wall…We need to create the 1:1 consumer experience the customer wants.”

Quality Conversations

Peterson also underlined the importance of having the right type of conversations with the consumer, conversations that are consumer-centric, connect through storytelling, and use sustainability and influence for the common good.

Adidas itself launched a Creators Club last year, with a speed factory designed to create small batches of products on the fly, designed by consumers.

This is a whole new world of product design, giving control and creative freedom directly to the consumer.

Invest in the Right Tech

Ask yourself, “what’s most important to my brand right now?” said Peterson. Is it sales, quality of traffic, quantity of traffic? Is your brand digital first (e.g. integrated Marketing and Digital Marketing teams) or is digital a strategic add-on?

Each brand has a unique play. Some are looking for a high risk, high reward strategy, while others are trying a softly, softly approach. The key is not to invest in tech that would put you out of business if it fails.

In other words, fail fast (because you will fail). Accept that some of your ideas won’t work but learn from them and swiftly move on.

For more on Digital Innovation keep reading our blog.

Drapers Digital Festival 2019 Winners

P&Co for Best Website Design

Jack & Jones for Best App

Luisa Via Roma for Best Digital Customer Engagement & Retention Strategy

George at Asda for Best Digital Innovation

Sosander for Best New Online Business

N Brown for Best Use of AI

Matalan for Best Use of Digital Marketing

Marks & Spencer for Best Use of Digital Personalisation

Shop Direct for Best Use of Social Media

Harrods for Best Use of Technology In-Store

Marks & Spencer for Best Multichannel Delivery Offer

Sosander for Digital Team of the Year

Farfetch for Best Digital Retailer

and Umar Kamani was introduced into the Hall of Fame

What digital innovations/seismic shifts is your brand currently experiencing? We’d love to hear from you.

Email us your thoughts.


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