Our new business team headed to FUTR Europe 2023 in London this week to hear from some of the UK’s best up-and-coming ecommerce brands on how they’re growing online. This event brought together visionaries, industry leaders, and forward-thinking professionals from around Europe, to explore the latest trends, technologies, and strategies shaping the future of commerce.
This year, it was truly great to hear that there was a common theme amongst all online brands that were speaking that we need to get back to brand values and a consumer-first approach. The most common topics that kept cropping up were comprised of; building brand communities that last, ensuring consumer trust and loyalty are a brands priority, and maintaining a positive and sustainable culture.
We heard from the likes of Hornby hobbies, BYBL Beauty, Finisterre, Beavertown Brewery, and Look Fabulous Forever on the kind of initiatives they’re implementing to support company growth that is sustainable and focused on improving the lives of employees and customers for the better, not just driving profit.
Let’s take a deep dive into the three most common themes and what we heard from the brands;
1. Building brand communities
FUTR Europe showcased the vibrant world of entrepreneurship and mid-market brands. Aspiring brands had the opportunity to discuss their ground-breaking ideas to agencies and industry experts to tackle big questions like ‘how do we take great products and brands and make them famous?’
Tom Rainsford, Marketing Director of Beavertown Brewery, and Perla Bloom, Global Marketing Strategy Manager at EA Games, were quick to the punch with stating that from a brand perspective, everything you do as a business should build your brand equity; therefore you should always be adding purpose and value with every marketing action you take. Traditional channels such as TV can do this, but can be cost prohibitive, therefore social channels are the next best thing for high-growth brands.
Ecommerce and Marketing Director, Janis Thomas from Look Fabulous Forever, dissected the key ingredients they used to make the perfect community of likeminded women, stating that 80% of their revenue comes from their community of returning customers. Tricia Cusden launched Look Fabulous Forever in 2013, aged 65. She struggled to find products that worked well for her skin and she felt ignored by beauty brands and retailers, so she created a range of makeup and skincare specifically for more mature skin types. The brand uses a plethora of personalisation tactics, engaging content and customer feedback strategies that keeps their customer at the heart of everything the brand stands for. This shows, considering they have built a brand community of over 82k people!
2. Ensuring customer trust & loyalty
FUTR Europe also emphasised the critical role of customer-centricity in today's competitive landscape. Renowned speakers such as Matt Hanrahan, Co-Founder of Reskinned, focussed on how market-oriented (and sustainability focussed) brands are more likely to enjoy stronger loyalty, but noted that it can be surprisingly easy to lose sight of the customer at times as business needs can take centre stage.
This often leads to brands making assumptions about their consumers and not actually listening to their needs or paying attention to a consumers values. Hanrahan as a result emphasised his brands desire to keep sustainability as its core driver in order to be authentic with their consumers.
John Sills, Managing Partner of The Foundation, took a different approach on the same topic and discussed the myth of customer loyalty, and how to create a truly human customer experience. Organisations are perfecting the functional experience at the expense of the emotional, human experience, leading to organisations that are full of humans who aren’t allowed to act in a human way. Sills believes that customers expect to see consistent but personalised and meaningful messaging, so why are brands forcing unwanted values on their customers? He added that bad experiences only happen when we focus too much on processes and rules, for example the purpose of headspace app is to relax and get away from the everyday yet they send 10 emails a day of marketing to their app users, so we need to be respectful of consumers time and values – no two customers are the same so don’t treat them as though they will shop, engage or be loyal with your brand in the same way as they are with others.
Others shared their expertise on crafting personalised experiences, building meaningful connections with customers, and leveraging data-driven insights to drive engagement and loyalty. Attendees discovered innovative strategies to anticipate and fulfil customer needs, ultimately creating a competitive advantage in their respective markets.
3. Maintaining a positive brand culture
The conference delved deep into the realm of emerging technologies and their impact on various industries both internally and externally. Expert panels and thought-provoking sessions covered topics such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual and augmented reality, and sustainability. One talk in particular titled ‘Embedding your brand in a culture and taking product innovation to the next level’ provided valuable insight on internal culture being a holistic 360 approach as it should not be separated from the brand and expressed that B Corp certification in fact requires that what you’re talking about externally is reflected and communicated internally too.
Co-Founders Elsie & Dominika discussed ways in which internal teams can be aligned with external values. Their brand, BYBI Beauty, is embedding the brand in culture; from carbon reduction being a marketing tool for the brand, to the importance of including a gender neutral parental leave policy.
FUTR Europe 2023 left us with a lasting impression on the global business community, showcasing the transformative power of innovation, customer-centricity, sustainability, and collaboration. We most definitely departed with a wealth of knowledge and inspiration, armed with practical strategies to navigate the ever-evolving business landscape we find ourselves in.
As we embrace the future, events like this will continue to serve as catalysts for change and knowledge, empowering us to shape strategies better for our clients and team mates. We aim to be your eyes and ears on the ground at these events and share whatever knowledge we glean, to save your time and budgets!
However, if you’d like to talk to us about any of these topics in more-depth, please feel free to reach out for a no obligation conversation. We offer consultancy services that can support brands in planning their ecommerce roadmap and marketing efforts so get in touch!