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How Target, Caribou Coffee use mobile social to spark in-store excitement

Target and Caribou Coffee are leveraging Pinterest to generate ideas for new product development, ensuring that they are quick to market with the latest trends while simultaneously creating the kind of brand advocates that can help generate buzz.

Many retailers have quickly jumped on board with Pinterest as a way to showcase their latest products and help inspire shoppers. However, as recent news from Target and Caribou Coffee reveals, mobile social conversations do not need to be one way and, in fact, merchants can themselves find important inspiration by watching what happens on sites such as Pinterest.

“Netflix was probably the original example of a brand leveraging mobile social for product development,” said Eric Korsh, vice president, group director for social and content at DigitasLBi, Boston. “It is an optimal way to turn fans into superfans and superfans into advocates, giving them a voice and a role to spread the brands narrative.

“Why not use the power of what is referred to as ‘cognitive surplus’ to fuel your brand research and development?” he said.

Party planning
On March 16, Target will launch a new party planning collection designed by Joy Cho, who is a leading pinner on Pinterest. It is the first of three limited-edition party planning collections that Target will launch this  year designed by Pinterest pinners.

Target is well-known for teaming up with major fashion and product designers with the goal of making great style available to the masses.

Mobile social is increasingly how shoppers as well as designers are keeping track of their ideas as well as where they are finding inspiration.

However, it remains to be seen if just because someone has a strong following on Pinterest it will translate to driving shoppers into stores to make a purchase.

Party planning is a great area for Target to test out its mobile social influence translates to in-store sales as it is a popular category on Pinterest, which reports that more than 700,000 party planning-related items pinned every day.

Real inspiration
Caribou Coffee asked its Pinterest followers to submit photos of what inspires them and used these images to help the company’s roasters develop the new Real Inspiration Blend.

To support the launch of the new blend, Caribou Coffee installed a five-story, interactive live Pinterest board at the Mall of America in Minnesota.

The board featured images that fans submitted for the effort as well as giving consumers around the world the opportunity to share their favorite inspirational photos by using the hashtag #CaribouInspires on Instagram or Twitter, with the images appearing on the Pinterest board.

Shoppers at the mall could also take photos with a larger-than-life coffee mug and write what inspires them on a wall-sized chalkboard.

Crowdsourcing product ideas is gaining steam with a variety of marketers.

PepsiCo.’s Lay’s recently expanded its massive crowdsourced “Do Us A Flavor” campaign this year to Instagram and Twitter to capture the growing amount of social media activity that is taking place on smartphones and tablets (see story).

Customers’ needs
Pinterest is also being leveraged by Target to deliver a highly curated shopping experience, something that can be particularly helpful on mobile, where the screen is small and shopping sessions are often abbreviated. Target Awesome shops helps meet mobile users’ needs by presenting the brand’s top pinned items on Pinterest as well as the best reviewed items from (see story).

One key benefit for marketers of leveraging mobile social is that it can help them quickly assess their customers’ wants and needs.

“A number of companies enable brands to quickly survey consumers using mobile/social to get quick feedback on product features, wants, etc.,” said Brett Leary, vice president of mobile at DigitasLBi.

“This type of real-time and cost-effective method has enabled brands to move faster in their developments cycles,” he said. “And this speed can be critical to success.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York