What Progressive Leaders Can Do to Align Their Brand & Products to the Current Digital Nomads
The impact of COVID has been disruptive and forced the hospitality industry to be incredibly innovative. Through the use of technology and today’s connectivity, we now have the ability to operate remotely with a stable internet connection and to “work from home” anywhere in the world. Whether that be from the comfort of your own physical home or from a hotel across the globe, we have the opportunity to balance our work and life in a way that we historically never could. COVID was definitely a catalyst for enabling and empowering people to work wherever they want to live and to enjoy the attractions around that destination. The impacts of this are staggering in that currently within this COVID environment there are 4.8 million people working remotely and that have done so for over 180 days. There’s another 90 million that are planning on remote working in the next year or so and another 45 million aspirational remote workers that want to take this leap. Many of these aspiring remote workers are just lacking the resources, information, the community and connection to live the same comfort of lifestyle abroad.
Since COVID, the beginning of q2 of last year, searches around the digital nomad have increased by over 50% and brands should care because this demand is evergrowing. We’re seeing companies like Airbnb in the first quarter of 2021 report that just over a quarter of their bookings were for a minimum of 28 days or four weeks. This trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The industry is ripe and there’s a lot of demand yet not a lot of great solutions to be able to provide the accessibility, accommodations, and amenities that these remote workers need to truly live this lifestyle.
Why Brands Should Care
Over the last decade or so we’re seeing that customers’ buying habits and behaviors are aligning with companies who have a cause that they support and that have a deeper, more meaningful purpose behind their brand. Whether that’s a philanthropic contribution, or its supporting a cause that has similar values. The related products that enable and enhance their experience have an opportunity to really position themselves in that light and as a lifestyle behavior for those that are looking to do this for extended periods of time. For brands to be able to increase brand perception and to align with remote workers for things that they care about, such as, giving back locally or supporting philanthropic efforts, will not only garner more social clout in the customer’s eyes but will also build an affinity and loyalty to a new emerging segment. Brands that recognize the remote working trend of enabling people to more easily go and actively live these lifestyles and aligning with this lifestyle choice will garner the reputation and notoriety of being a preferred and trusted product.
By working with these consumers by getting feedback through various marketing tactics and creating a more inclusive and dynamic relationship with their customer base, they’re able to use that feedback loop of customer sentiment through surveys and buying habits. This allows them to really be able to leverage and extend their brand offerings by having a true pulse on what their customer’s needs and demands are in using their product or service. Brands can ultimately create more impact and influence in their customer bases by engaging and interacting with their more avid users, which in this case are remote workers. Through campaigns and brand engagement, brands can develop marketing campaigns and really leverage user-generated content which will further brand loyalty and advocacy for the brand. Utilizing user-generated content is more authentic and trusted because it’s typically handheld or not as professionally edited like commercial footage. It also reduces your marketing expense by leveraging your user base for ideas for footage for campaigns for production, and you can create champions of the business to capture content on your behalf that further represents the lifestyle.
Ultimately, what this does is increase the company and product’s exposure, as well as their return on investment of their marketing dollars. From the short-term benefits to the long-term brand equity, brands should seriously consider the following strategies and tactics to attract and engage remote workers as an additional segment to their marketing strategy.
How Brands Can Market to Remote Workers
Aligning Influencers & Leaders:
User-generated content, peer-to-peer content, and even sponsored influencers known for product promotion carry a lot more clout and relatability than models hired in a corporate capacity. Identifying leaders in niche categories that have complimentary followings and audiences are a way to be able to facilitate unique campaigns and engagements. It can be truly beneficial to enroll them in promoting your product by showcasing its features, the lifestyle usage of the product, and how it enhances their quality of life. By collaborating and partnering with these influencers in select industries, you create a win-win scenario, in that they’ll get additional visibility to your following and in turn, they’ll grow their influence and followership. Align your brand with them and get that authentic lifestyle type of shot to associate your brand with.
User-generated content is another strategy and tactic that through various campaigns and in enrolling your following in creating content for you, the brand can get a wide variety of authentic assets to be able to leverage and repurpose in the future across your omnichannel approach. Brands should set expectations and parameters of what that reciprocal and mutually beneficial engagement between the brand and the user looks like. Guidelines should be provided about what type of content is acceptable and what is most likely to be able to be reused. We see companies like REI do this very effectively in the outdoor space where they curate the content created by their users and post it to the community of other outdoor advocates and enthusiasts. Using strategy and intent when recruiting their followers, brands should be able to use them and their influence amongst their community of similar people to increase exposure and visibility.
Social Media Campaigns & Competitions:
Here, you can see where brands want to reward their customers and followers for engaging in a certain type of content, whether it’s a product giveaway, a trip, or an opportunity to meet an influencer. Social media campaigns, competitions, and giveaways to enroll and engage your current audience are influential ways to be able to get deeper engagement from your following. Many brands create and post shareable campaign promotions that their followers repost in order for them to enter the giveaway and in turn, brings attention to your brand. These competitions draw more awareness to the company and they engage current followers.
Education – Tips & How To’s:
Through videos, photos, blogs, and even by using QR codes, companies can guide people using their products with resources regarding the product, tips, tricks and hacks about how to effectively use the product, and with educational step by step procedures on developing and using the product for its intended purpose. Companies are going to align and show the type of footage to their customers that can enhance their quality of life and create an affinity for your product because of how it enables their lifestyle. These can be also collaborated on with influencers or even just users of the product to continue that organic feel in a professional manner.
Community – Lifestyle Tips:
Brands can promote to remote workers by facilitating a community where they can educate and show what the lifestyle looks like. It’s important to create a space for people to connect online as well as offline to learn from each other, ask questions, educate, and provide resources to better themselves around that certain topic. For instance, providing the stand up paddleboard community with online environments where people can ask questions, where they can buy and sell used paddleboards to one another, and where they get information that they otherwise couldn’t from the brand by having a community of other users who can share in that knowledge. It’s incredibly valuable to create a community that can come together to support your brand or product that benefits their lifestyle.
Events – Community & Sponsored:
This could be by sponsoring and facilitating community events around getting your user base and others in the industry to attend these events. It can also be by sponsoring more formal events, conferences, activities and things that are happening around these communities that attract these types of customers. This can reinforce an existing client or position them as that trusted product and resource for a new prospective customer. It also can be very beneficial for brands to engage in markets with remote workers because they create a facilitation for consumers to have an interface and to actually engage with someone from the brand.
Looking at where other brands in the industry share experiences with your customers and don’t overlap in a way that there’s competition can allow for collaboration. Supporting one another can be a great way to curate partnerships that collectively provide a more integrated experience for customers. For instance, in the hospitality world, hotels are starting to partner with transportation and even sometimes restaurants or activities like mountain biking, or skiing, to create holistic packages that have a 10% or 15% discount. They still continue to have the same profit margins and the perception of that discount when it’s merely bridging all three of those to create an easier customer experience for the end-user. Identifying where you have adjacent and complementary brands that can support and enhance that quality of life for your users is a great way to elevate your social capital and perception with your users and to your partners.
This trend of the current digital nomad is very different from that of a historic digital nomad who stayed in hostels and found the cheapest way to live. With modern accessibility and connectivity via a global internet infrastructure, remote workers today have the ability to live a more active luxurious lifestyle. The brands and products that sell this lifestyle also have an opportunity to gain market share in this ever-growing segmentation of international remote workers. Similar to how the transportation industry was disrupted by car sharing with Lyft and Uber through the advancements of technology and connectivity, the hospitality industry is at that same juncture with technology and an abundance of options for customers to break through the clutter and gain market share to this growing audience. It’s important for brand leaders to take a very strategic approach to what this brand alignment and market positioning look like so as not to ostracize or put off prospective customers that have an opportunity to be lifelong advocates. If this is something your brand isn’t feeling comfortable with, Social Capital Agency is here to support you in how to craft and position your organization and products for this disruptive market.