C&A Global Pictures a UGC-Driven Strategy for Polaroid

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The licensee launches Polaroid's first branded e-commerce site and incorporates user-generated content throughout the brand's channels


Photo source: Polaroid

The world is a little different since Polaroid's founder Edwin H. Land first conceptualized the instant camera in 1943. What started as a novel way to immediately view a snapped photo has been superseded by digital cameras, smartphones, and social apps Instagram and Snapchat.

Polaroid has had to expand its product base to keep up with the evolving times. In addition to selling instant cameras, it now sells digital action cameras and accessories like pocket-sized printers through its licensee C&A Global. 

As its product offerings have expanded, so has its marketing mix. This June, for instance, C&A Global launched Polaroid's first branded e-commerce site: MeetPolaroid.com.

Developing a new approach

Now, this isn't to say that Polaroid has been off the digital grid completely. Aaron Paine, director of digital and social media for C&A Global, says that Polaroid has had a corporate website and has sold its products on e-commerce sites like Amazon.com and Target.com. However, he says that he wanted to own the conversation around Polaroid's products and create an ecosystem where the brand could drive cross-sells and conversions.

“It's time to reintroduce consumers back to the brand,” he says.

So, Paine says that he started strategizing and pushing for a website in November 2016. However, he didn't want to design a traditional e-commerce site. He wanted it to truly reflect the Polaroid brand and feature people who valued and understood how to use Polaroid's products.

“When it came to the website, yes we needed e-commerce,” he says, “but we wanted it to look and feel like it was positively impacted by people.”

To achieve this goal, he decided to populate Polaroid's new website with user-generated content (UGC) provided by content engine Social Native.

Focusing on UGC across channels

According to Bhaji Illuminati, VP of marketing for Social Native, Social Native is an on-demand marketplace that offers brands creative assets from a network of social content creators. The platform leverages artificial intelligence like image recognition, she explains, and analyzes creators' digital footprints across the web —like their social channels, blogs, and interests. For instance, the technology can identify if most of a creator's social content features cats, she says, or if the image captions frequently reference a particular activity. Illuminati says this allows marketers to find creators who are most relevant to their brand.

C&A Global had used Social Native for Polaroid in the past and had already seen a return on its investment. The company ran its first test campaign with Social Native in July 2015. Not only did Polaroid reach 2.5 million Instagram followers through the initiative, but Paine says that the brand also brought its cost per engagement down to 13 cents.

Then, C&A Global ran Polaroid's 2016 holiday media campaign and featured mostly UGC in its media buys. Paine says that Polaroid experienced a 180% lift in sales from July 2015 through the 2016 holiday season.

Since then, C&A Global has incorporated UGC across Polaroid's corporate channels, including its packaging, print, social, display, in-store, and more.

“That's how consumers are digesting information,” Paine says in regards to the brand's multichannel approach.

Zooming in on the results

When it comes to the new website specifically, Paine says Polaroid is featuring different Instagram content on each of its product pages. He claims that this kind of UGC can be more valuable than reviews in terms of actually showing purchase intent — mainly because reviews can be biased.

“Showing desire to purchase, to me, is a much easier sell than to convince a consumer to buy...[by] showing a consumer a review,” he says.  

And while he says it's too early to share specific performance metrics, he says that the website has generated “some sales.”

“It's been positive,” he says in terms of initial results. "We've been getting some sales in.”  

He also shared that the company has discovered new micro audiences. For instance, he says that C&A Global found a “huge active audience” for Polaroid among school cheerleaders.

As for marketers hoping to better incorporate UGC into their own channels, Paine encourages them to keep testing and to make sure that they can link creators' content back to overall brand story.

“For Polaroid, it's creative, it's documentation, it's sharing,” he says. “Meet Polaroid.”

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