Even in times of disruption, there is an opportunity to pursue innovation. Connected technologies leader HARMAN’s ability to reimagine our marketing and content strategy in these times has led to some positive changes in the way we reach, engage and influence our consumers. A renewed focus on fresh content and assets, as well as the need to market our products to an increasingly online-focused consumer base, has pushed HARMAN’s brightest marketing minds to create new and imaginative solutions that are resonating with consumers worldwide. To get the details, we recently spoke with Christopher Dragon, HARMAN’s Senior Director, Global Product Marketing COA, and Monique Mims, HARMAN’s Global Marketing Communications Manager, to learn more.
- With so many more people turning to the web to make their purchases, it has been important for us to raise the bar even higher on our storytelling approach to better promote our products online. Tell us about what this team has done to drive that work forward.
CD: Consumer behavior and how consumers shop online continues to evolve every day. So in order to drive results, our content creation processes and what we are creating is evolving as well. When all is said and done, our mission is to drive a purchase.
In the case of both our internal sites and those of our key customers such as Amazon, you will see product pages delivering more content than ever before and with some real changes. Striking a balance of providing the right amount of product information is tricky. Some consumers want a deep dive, some want quick bites of key information, and others fall somewhere in the middle. These observations don’t come without analyzing where consumers are spending time on our sites as well as input and collaboration with our key external selling partners.
As my team is global, we are challenged with creating assets that are effective in multiple geographies. To achieve this, visuals and copy are both extremely important. They set brand tonality and deliver what sets our products apart from the competitive set. If you look at JBL.com for example, almost half of our consumer visits result in reading the specs and features section. Not at all what you would expect. You would think they would just watch the product video. Consumers are spending more time comparing products in order to make an informed decision as well. As a result, you will see tools such as product compare functionality and product lineup charts being used more and more. These charts also serve a meaningful additional benefit as they provide a size comparison which truly helps the consumer hone in on the right product and even drive them to purchase a larger more powerful product than originally planned. Accompanying these tools, we have also been creating exploded view videos and still images to provide deeper dive info for those that want it. These are a great way to show why our products are the best sounding out there and continue to reinforce our position as a leader and not a follower.
One of the most significant asset evolutions can be seen on Amazon. Gone are the days of photo galleries with eight or nine photos showing every conceivable angle of a product. These have been replaced by an image gallery with a few photos and the addition of feature tiles to communicate key product benefits with text, photography and other illustrations. This really allows the consumer to see what the key features of a product are at a glance.
- Has the team noticed any new trends in consumer behavior? Are there categories of products that seem to be more popular as people spend more time at home?
CD: We have seen some shifts and fortification to home theater systems, including soundbars, audio components
and passive loudspeakers. The sale of headphones and in-ear headphones of all types are enjoying increased market penetration. Not only are consumers using these to work and exercise at home, but they also use them to escape and gain some privacy during downtime. In addition, our JBL PartyBox line is dominating this category and some recent research among JBL product buyers told us the number one use case is for at-home enjoyment with family and their small groups of friends (or their COVID Bubble).
- Has the pandemic created any opportunities or thinking around new product categories or types for us to pursue?
CD: Our business leaders are certainly always looking for new categories and executions to address emerging trends and to reach new consumers altogether. I would defer to them for comment on this one. However, I can tell you we have a wonderful new product coming, ideally suited for home learning and working from home, releasing later this season as part of the new InfinityLab program.
- Monique, you’ve driven some of the recent product shoots. How is your process different during Covid? Are there any learnings you might carry forward into more normal times?
MM: As is true for other teams around the world, when Covid-19 hit, our team needed to figure out how to adapt quickly. With the anticipated increase in online sales, we knew how important it would be to figure out a way to continue providing the assets needed to support our new product launches.
We worked with our agency partners to develop a plan -- which often changed 3 to 4 times due to Covid-related restrictions! Flexibility and readiness played a big part in our ability to succeed, as we constantly found ourselves in those “hurry up and wait” scenarios. We did things like change the delivery of our products coming in from the business units so they would go directly to our photographer, which ensured that we received new product photos quickly. We worked with Covid-19-certified production houses and found ways to work with a smaller team on-site. Establishing these processes was essential when our team could not travel to be on set.
Now that some travel restrictions are easing up within the US, we can return to conducting some photoshoots in-person again. However, being on set means COVID testing everyone prior to the shoot, in addition to temperature checks on-site, wearing masks 100% of the time, socially distanced eating during breaks and using lots of hand sanitizer.
While the COVID way of operating is time-consuming and filled with many unplanned starts and stops, it’s been impressive to watch our teams rise to the challenges of our business needs. And though some of the changes we implemented may remain post-COVID, there is nothing like being on-site to work a shoot - being able to make sure everything is executed just the way you envisioned it. I very much look forward to going back to “business as usual” in the near future.
HARMAN is incredibly proud of our teams’ abilities to pivot and develop effective strategies in these times, in an effort to continue succeeding in an increasingly online world. Thanks to the hard work of our content creators and marketers across the world, HARMAN’s online marketing and content vision kept meeting the consumer’s demand for superior and connected experiences across the board. Our new products and strategies are only as strong as the people who devise them, such as HARMAN Lifestyle Audio’s Chris Dragon and Monique Mims. These leaders, along with others from the HARMAN family, make us proud by delivering stronger than ever results, regardless of business conditions and ever-changing consumer expectations.