Future Implications

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Humans have been creating with clay as early as 24,000 BC and functional pottery such as vessels for storing food and water has been noted as being present since 10,000 BC. This ability to create plates, bowls, and cups to use, trade, and sell makes ceramics one of the most ancient industries. The core of pottery: sculptural forms, decorative pieces, and functional ware have been re-invented time again. Even how potters have promoted their works, through traditional marketing tactics including word of mouth, trade, pictures, books, galleries, museums, have been consistent and one-sided. Today, digital marketing through a potter website, his or her blog, and social media channels such as Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, has widened exposure instantaneously and globally as well as a two-way form of communication. With changes in human behavior and technology, the ceramic industry will have move towards future trends such as mobile brand messaging, social media real life integration, and co-creating with brand advocates. These changes will generate financial and physical growth for company brands willing to evolve and participate.

Mobile Brand Messaging

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Just as industrial revolution ignited the forward movement for ceramics with the creation of electricity for safer and faster kiln firings increasing production drastically, the growth of smartphones is driving consumers into the hands of brands. Mobile brand messaging will enable personal interactions between brands and consumers. A new study about retail mobile messaging was released by OtherLevels documenting that messaging frequently, especially through a brand mobile application, can provoke the consumer to engage more with the brand. For instance, a potter can send a message announcing a holiday oriented promotion or offer app features such as list generation, product finder, and real time in stock inventory. By 2017, it is projected that over 50 percent of commerce will be conducted on mobile devices. This will result in the more a brand send messages, the more it will sell. As technology changes, options such as mobile wallet will take brand messaging one step further enabling the consumer to instantly by a product from a push message before he or she arrives at the brand store.

Real Life Integration

In the process of eliminating the gap between “technology” and “life”, social media will launch the opportunity to connect the consumer with the brand seamlessly. As advancements in technology rise, QR codes will Qr-2become more visually product enhanced. This means the QR code could launch product information instantly including features like product history, product reviews, social media friends and family members who have used the product, and suggested related products. This feature could boost brand transparency and consumer trust. BUY IT buttons will become more embedded in social media promotional ads on networks like Facebook. This would allow, for instance, a potter to collect revenue from social media channels, blog, e-commerce store, and mobile messaging.

Co-Creating with Brand Advocates

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In the ceramics industry, niche markets will excel. In a world where there is a plethora of product to choose from, potters, like brands, will need to stand out from each. By evaluating data from social media tools such as Google Analytics, and listening to consumer chatter with a dashboard monitor like Hootsuite, a brand will embrace co-creation. An example of co-creating is a potter makes a bowl. He or she evaluates keywords, search terms, and other data extracted from Google Analytics to design content to be used to promote the bowl on the social media landscape. Since about 25 percent of all branded search results are user-generated content, listening to and engaging with the consumer develops a partnership directly with the potter to co-create. This user generated content can lead the potter to develop product to fit exactly what the consumer needs, happier buyers, brand loyalty, and the potential of financial growth for the potter.

Ancient Concept

Personalization and brand experience are an ancient concept stemming back to the beginning of the ceramic industry. Traditional marketing strategies have reinvented themselves to a newer, more efficient, and engaging level with social media marketing. The change in human behavior to instantly connect with others and brands and the constant evolution of technology to accommodate consumer needs will allow for brands, like potters, to capitalize on trends including mobile brand messaging, social media real life integration, and co-creating with brand advocates. In the future, with a swipe of a finer across a smartphone, a buy-web-buttonconsumer can connect on the social media landscape, search for a bowl, learn about one he or she likes, press the BUY IT button, pay from his or her mobile wallet, and boast about the purchase on a social network in less time than it took for the potter to make, fire, and package the bowl.

Differentiation

Big Ceramic Store and Bracker’s Good Earth Clay are two influential ceramic stores within the ceramic industry. BigCeramicsStore.com was founded by a husband and wife team in 1999 when the ceramic industry was just getting involved on Web 2.0. In 2013, the couple sold the business to Vertana, a NYC based e-commerce company. Bracker’s Good Earth is also owned by a husband and wife team that starting selling ceramic supplies in 1985 and began a web presence in 2000. Each company has a e-commerce website; however this is where they begin to differ. Big Ceramic Store (BCS) website is a traditional e-commerce store with links to Facebook, Pinterest, and the company blog. Bracker’s website is enriched with offering an extensive collections of social media networks and it provides content rich information presenting them as a ceramic industry leader. Each company uses social media to create brand awareness, drive traffic to the company website, build relationships with consumers but they have different goals.

BigCeramicStore.com

Big Ceramic Store is known for selling “big” ticket items, such as a pottery kiln or wheel, with free shipping. This is an alluring marketing tactic in a niche industry. Big Ceramic Store has created a 1950’s diner style website that directs the consumer right to products they are looking for as seen below:

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The BCS social media strategy is apparent as soon as the consumer lands on the front page. BCS has invested in driving business through the store e-newsletter which pop-up instantaneously. The goal behind collecting emails is to turn potential leads into return customers. BCS e-newsletter is focused on conversion which is apparent with an immediate sign-on bonus of 15% off. Once the consumer joins the BCS e-newsletter, he or she will continue to receive frequent incentive discounts especially based on areas within the store where the consumer has visited. The BCS e-newsletter is designed to increase web traffic and sales through conversions while building brand awareness and communicating directly with the consumer.

Big Ceramic Store also uses the social media networks, Facebook and Pinterest, to post sales; however, Pinterest has a stronger impact with 1.6K followers, 29 boards, and 862 pins. A popular board on Pinterest is called BCS Announcements linking viewers to BCS blog and discounts. The Pinterest boards and Facebook link the consumer back to BigCeramicStore.com to watch ceramic videos, read the BCS blog, or make a purchase. Both social media channels support the company goal to convert the potential lead into a sale by driving the consumer to the website.

Brackers.com

Bracker’s has a distinctively different approach to socially engaging the ceramic consumer. The Bracker’s website is overwhelming the consumer with a large volume of ceramic content earmarking them a leader in the ceramic industry. In addition, Brackers.com offers repetitively links to the social media channels with banners as noted below that the consumer is lead to believe Bracker’s is super socialBrackers

This extensive presence promotes the Bracker brand to a wide audience and can leave the consumer feeling compelled to click through to one of the networks. The Bracker’s website offers upcoming events which can be conveniently added to a consumers Google, Outlook or Apple Calendar; it has informative video’s educating the ceramic consumer on relevant content. Bracker’s is using the tactic of search engine optimization (SEO) with keywords and the repetitive social media channel with reciprocal links to earn ranking organically on search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Since the actual Bracker’s e-commerce store is hard to find, the company goal is education and brand awareness as a ceramic industry leader.

Consumers Vs. Industry Leader

Big Ceramics Store is branded for “big” discounts and offers constant contact with the consumer through an e-newsletter. The company’s goal is to drive traffic to the e-commerce website, develop brand loyalty through social media channels, such as Facebook and Pinterest, and convert leads e-newsletter subscribers into sales. Bracker’s Good Earth Clay is recognized as a ceramic industry leader by offering a plethora of high quality content, informational videos, an educational blog, an extensive presence on the social media landscape, daily listings of ceramic events, and uses search optimization tools to increase web traffic. Both companies use their website to connect and communicate with the consumer, however Big Ceramic Store is effectively building a relationship with the consumer through the e-newsletter and discounts. Bracker’s is branded as a ceramic industry leader and used a reference and resource more so than generating a return on investment. What do you want from your ceramic supplier, “big” discounts or a social calendar?