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For brands, building a community offers the opportunity to engage with consumers, create loyalty and gain insights from listening to what they say.
Those were some of the insights shared by Olaplex CEO JuE Wong during a keynote at ShopTalk this week. With 2.2 million followers on Instagram and a growing presence on TikTok, the haircare brand has developed significant communities on social media after the team decided to invest in building.
With community, brands can forge deeper ties with consumers. Alongside offering information about what a product does and showing it, there is a chance to speak directly with consumers. The best communities also create a space where its members can connect to each other.
In the end, this creates a bond that goes beyond a single purchase.
“When you are able to cross the functional aspects of your brand into the emotional relationship and emotional connection, what ends up happening is you create an ecosystem of longevity and loyalty,” Wong said.
Alongside engagement, there is also the opportunity to learn. Pay attention to what these loyal consumers say, and it can inform the actions a brand takes. This "social listening" can be just as powerful as focus groups, Wong said. Consumers are there to give praise, or negative feedback. It's all valuable intelligence.
So where should a brand start? For brands considering building a community, Wong said it’s important to “understand your brand’s super power. What is your brand’s DNA?”
That can guide how the community develops, and what is shared within it. Olaplex's treatment to rebuild broken hair bonds grew up at salons, where product recommendations often take place. Its community reflects this.
Next, it’s important to decide where to engage in a way that is authentic and genuine. That could be a social media platform. Other brands have started communities on platforms such as Discord and Slack. Wherever it lands, it’s important to be true oneself.
“Try not being everything to everyone because you’ll end up being nothing to anyone,” she said.
The community that Olaplex has built led Wong to recall a phrase she saw on a bomber jacket: “The power of the people is greater than all of the people in power.”
“This is what our community is: the power of the people,” she said.
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LadderUp is aiming for 50% LGBTQ+ and BIPOC participation. Shopify will provide access to its platform.
Shipt is launching a new accelerator program designed to provide ecommerce tools for local retailers.Called LadderUp, the program is centered on equity. Target-owned delivery owned Shipt said conversations with business owners have revealed that local entrepreneurs face “gaps” in technology, but they also want to participate in ecommerce platforms. The COVID-19 pandemic was especially difficult for Black business owners, who saw earnings drop between 11-28% in 2019-2020, as compared to the earnings decrease of 5-17% for the rest of the population.
With the new program, the company’s goal is to reach at least 50% LGBTQ+ and BIPOC participation in the program.
Shipt is aiming to serve businesses in Atlanta, Birmingham, Alabama, Detroit, Houston and Washington, D.C.
Target categories include: grocery/beverage, health, beauty, and floral/gifts retailers.
“Working with small businesses to build up their capabilities is a key part of our commitment to help create healthier, more resilient and equitable communities,” said CEO Kamau Witherspoon. “We recognize the unique role that we can play in both combating hunger in under-resourced communities and boosting small, local retailers that are so vital to communities across our country.”
What will entrepreneurs receive?
Education: Business owners who are selected will receive an 8-week course with industry leaders that covers business-building topics including finances, efficiency, marketing, ecommerce 101, the basics of using Shipt, and legal knowledge.
Funding: Upon completion, retailers will provide $5,000 for businesses to invest in ecommerce.
Shopify access: Shopify, which is partnering with Shipt, is also providing to its access for a limited amount of time to help business owners build an online storefront and manage inventory. The program will also provide technical assistance.Applications are open Feb. 6- March 6.