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1800Flowers, MillerCoors execs: Emojis are fundamental for driving millennial mcommerce

NEW YORK – Executives from MillerCoors and 1800Flowers at the Mobile Media Summit Upfront at Internet Week 2015 conference discussed their brands’ dedication to innovating in the mobile messaging space, particularly with emojis, in a bid to drive sales of products and reach millennial consumers.

During the “Emojis: The New Brand Conversation Currency” session, the executives revealed case studies of emoji keyboards done in conjunction with Swyft Media, some of which were able to reach 700,000 shares among millennials. As 1800Flowers is very focused on return on investment, the emojis are able to open a two-way conversation between the brand and its customers, and remind them of its holiday-themed items for sale.

“With mobile, the mediums are still testing themselves,” said Amit Shah, senior vice president of online, mobile and social media at, Carle Place, NY. “Within that contested space, messaging has definitely aggregated the audience at scale.

“People are using this medium to go a little deeper,” he said. “Within messaging, emojis are probably the only non-interruptive currency left.”

Native advertising
Emojis function as a way for brands to provide in-application or in-messaging native advertising that offers consumers a fun and engaging manner of communicating with each other, and therefore passing along branded messages.

“What we’re seeing now is the messaging explosion,” said Evan Wray, co-founder and CEO of Swyft Media, New York. “It’s only a matter of time before brand dollars go here.

“It’s a huge untapped opportunity and can make a huge impact on the buying tendencies of consumers going forward.”

MillerCoors teamed up with Swyft Media to develop a series of emojis for users of mobile dating applications, a popular destination for as many as one in five millennials. Results showed that the most shared emoji was in fact an image of two brand-stamped beer bottles clinking against each other, a tactic which helped break the ice among two people chatting in-app and also drove sales of MillerCoors beers.

The Coors Light emojis saw 702,000 total shares on Swyft’s dating app partners, while Miller Lite saw 403,000 shares.

“It’s really taking a shift to how we look at marketing to this group,” said Dilini Fernando, digital innovation and marketing manager at MillerCoors, Chicago, IL. “We think about the digital world for the millennial, and the mobile device is at the center of that.”

1800Flowers’ strategy
Meanwhile, 1800Flowers opted to leverage Mother’s Day to create an emoji keyboard for consumers to use when they wanted to share sentimental messages with their mothers or other friends and family.

The Mother’s Day emojis experienced nearly 225,000 shares, showcasing the power of branded messaging opportunities. This also helped raise awareness of 1800Flowers’ products ahead of the holiday and offered consumers a quick solution if they had not yet ordered gifts for their mothers.

“We are very enthused by the initial response we got and hopefully we can deepen the conversation we are having with our customers through this medium,” 1800Flowers’ Mr. Shah said.

The shareability factor of emojis helps brands cross-pollinate their messages and products to a wider variety of consumers, suggesting that emojis have a long shelf life ahead of them in terms of collecting advertising dollars.

1800Flowers and MillerCoors are not the only companies tapping emoji keyboards to connect with customers.This past March, Burger King unveiled a branded emoji keyboard to celebrate the return of Chicken Fries, succeeding in ramping up awareness and sales of the popular food item (see story).

“It’s all about finding those deep native ways to engage with millennials in a fun way they won’t even know is advertising,” Swyft’s Mr. Wray said. “The brands that don’t make this adjustment, they simply won’t be relevant anymore.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York