Social media, email and distributors are no longer as effective as they once were for reaching customers. Here we introduce the product channel, the new way to engage customers without the drawbacks of traditional channels.
November 29, 2018
At Blue Bite we believe better lives can be made through better products. To fulfill this mission we’ve create a new channel, which allows creators to add digital content to physical products. That content is information, which empowers people to solve problems, make decisions, be confident, form opinions and, collectively, live better lives.
But we can’t fulfill our mission alone.
We need help from creators like you.
We need you to be the innovators, the pioneers, the ones who are willing to forge a new way of reaching audiences, using your products as the new channel to connect with customers. By enabling your products, you effectively build smarter products, and smart products lead to life better lived.
The channel we’ve developed has four main use cases—content distribution, communication, sales, and authentication—all aimed at giving customers more information to live more efficiently.
The new content channel gives inanimate objects a voice and creators the power to change the way people experience the world. Marrying content and products provides people with more utility and a better experience. Brands can provide context and backstory for a product, share care tips, communicate best practices for using an item, create a shared forum for communities to engage—all through physical products.
Content is being created at unprecedented levels; 2 million blog posts are written every day, at a rate that is only increasing. However, the effectivity of that content is decreasing. Buzzsumo analyzed 43 million Facebook posts across 20,000 brand pages and found that all of them had a 50% reduction in engagement. So what’s accounting for this decrease in effectivity? Where this content is being published.
Traditional channels like social media and email are no longer as captivating to audiences as they once were. Social media is cluttered with competitors all vying for the same audience's attention. Forbes reported that stark increase in News Feed competition is contributing to the “staggering decline” in engagement. Social platforms also optimize their algorithms so the chances of your content being seen becomes even narrower. Finally, publishing content on third party platforms means they own your audience and your audience’s data. In other words, they reap the value of your content more so than you do when you publish content on their platforms.
Smart products are a new, better, private channel through which brands and creators can reach their audiences uninterrupted. Taking the same content published through platforms like email and social media and publishing it to a product means that users can access it when they choose to be engaged. In that environment, users are not distracted. It also enables you to own interaction data, so you can provide your customers with improved content aimed at making their day-to-day lives more convenient and informed.
One use case is providing users with how-to tutorials to improve their skills. For example, makeup brands can embed how-to apply tutorial videos in their products to teach customers how to create various looks and master the product. Another use case is providing product information. For example, if a product is created from recycled materials, communicating that information to users is an opportunity to educate them on sustainability and activate them to be more environmentally conscious.
A real-world example of giving a voice to objects is DYNE’s athleisure apparel. Each garment in DYNE’s collection is made up of high-end, smart fabrics with antimicrobial and wicking properties, waterproof fibers and reflectivity. Materials include aquaguard zippers, mesh paneling, water resistant wool, reflectivity and other technical elements. Providing this information to customers through an experience directly demonstrated to them DYNE’s values and dedication to harmonizing form and function.
As the adage goes: “people buy better versions of themselves.” Using that as a foundation, creators can be the friend that helps people achieve their “better version” by providing them useful content that shares new skills and ideas.
Hand in hand with the new content channel is the new communication channel. As creators, the products you build are developed with the purpose of making users feel something, live easier or both. Because the product is meant for the user, it becomes of the utmost importance to be able to communicate with your audience to ensure you are supporting them in a relevant way.
It is standard to engage users through email to receive feedback. However, often those asks go unanswered due to the nature of cluttered mailboxes; customers are likely to delete or ignore emails due to the sheer volume they receive daily. Direct feedback gives creators the opportunity to ascertain key insights about their users. Moreover, traditional email campaigns do not ask for a reply, instead simply offering to click through to a website. That method is not useful in building lasting communication with customers.
Enabling your products creates a direct communication line with your users, where you can involve them in contributing to the product itself. Through your products you can filter surveys, feedback forms and questions that engage your users so you can learn how and where to improve. You also have the ability to get your users to register their products and then use that list of registered users to better cater to those people.
Adidas enabled their Parley sneakers to better understand how customers liked the sneakers and mission behind them. The experience included a feedback form that asked customers questions related to comfort, look, and style and whether the shoe’s mission resonated with them. Collecting that feedback provided important insight for adidas because it allowed them to iterate on the experience with more helpful and informative content. Feedback also helped to inform the next generation of that sneaker design.
As brands, we sometimes lose sight of what our customers really want and need. sellers used to be able to drive customers through the funnel, but today, customers choose how they move through the customer journey; they have the ability to ignore what they don’t want, and only patron brands that align with their beliefs and values. Using products as a sales channel gives creators the ability to learn what is most useful to their customers, and like a friend, suggest the things they think customers could benefit from.
Distribution partners for any brand have traditionally been an asset, but they also come with drawbacks. As a third party, distributors may have limited understanding of a product which can lead to a dilution of your brand, message, and mission. A brand is defined as consisting of all touchpoints with a customer. When customers interact with a distributor, consumers may have a poor experience and your brand may suffer as a result. Moreover, distributors get facetime with customers to a degree that brands don’t. When a sale is made through a distributor, that distributor acquires the customer instead of you. Smart products change all that.
Turning your product into a sales channel allows creators/you to organically build rapport with audiences, and learn what a customer values so you can provide helpful recommendations.
A brand that did this seamlessly is Staple Pigeon, the company of streetwear designer, Jeff Staple. He enabled a keychain and used it for both content and sales. The experience was a scavenger hunt throughout NYC, which took fans on a journey to locations that were integral to building Staple’s brand. Telling his story in such an innovative way, brought value to fans who had always been curious about the designer’s story. A few months after the scavenger hunt, Staple updated the keychain to give owners early access to an exclusive sneaker release. Through the keychain they were able to purchase the limited edition sneakers before the rest of the public. Staple identified keychain owners as the perfect audience to promote his sneakers to.
As creators, we’re really proud of the products we create. It represents our ideas and the work we took to make those ideas a reality, and we take serious precautions to protect that IP. We protect logos, slogans and ideas with copyrights, trademarks, and patents, but what do we do to protect our physical products from counterfeits and imitations?
To protect products from counterfeits (and your brand as an extension of that), Blue Bite authentication has emerged as a solution. Using NFC as a tool to thwart counterfeit goods empowers both creators and customers. Creators can embed NFC as a way to identify real products from fake goods, and customers can keep from perpetuating the sale of fake goods by checking product authenticity before making a purchase.
Also playing into this is customer experience. We create things in order for others to find meaning and utility in them; if a customer unwittingly comes to possess a fake item, they are faced with a bad customer experience, which in turn can lead to marred brand reputation.
Sneaker Con knew the importance of protecting its brand reputation and partnered with Blue Bite to prevent the perpetuation of fake sneakers at their convention. As the world’s premier sneaker convention bringing vendors and attendees to buy, sell and trade some of the most exclusive and sought after sneakers on the market, it was of the utmost importance for Sneaker Con to ensure that the sneakers brought to their convention were genuine. Authenticators at the convention would determine a shoe genuine, and tag it with a tamper-proof LEGIT tag that was enabled with the sneaker’s details (make, model, brand, condition) as well as with a digital seal of authenticity. Once encoded, the tag details could not be changed or reversed. Users could then tap the tag to upload their sneakers to their virtual closet. Tapping was the only way users could get the authenticity seal to upload into the app. Taking this action to protect its fans and brand, solidified Sneaker Con’s reputability, and also made them the leader in setting the standard for authenticity.
Transforming your products into the new channel enables you to distribute content, communicate directly with customers, and authenticate products. Looking at these use cases collectively, we see how they work together to make information more accessible and efficient, and in turn help people live smarter.
Famed writer Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” By enabling your products, you leave a trail.
Be a pioneer; change how people experience the world.
We’re here to get you started.