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3 Hot Takes: Putting Joy on Faces, Springs in Steps, and Butts in Bucket Seats

This week, Walmart scrutinizes your face, Xero Shoes looks to your feet, and RVshare gets your whole body moving close to home.

Walmart takes content to the digital aisles

Walmart has gone all-in on its “content-to-commerce” strategy this year with shoppable livestreams that entertain while letting viewers discover products.

But for the holiday season, Walmart is going bigger. Its content-to-commerce campaign “Joy. Fully.” will let consumers use an AR lens to discover products that “spark joy” for them, based on their facial expressions as they view. The lens project is a collaboration with Facebook.

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The campaign will also feature shoppable livestreams and other content, including a large-scale launch of shoppable recipes on Pinterest.

WHY IT’S HOT: Consumers may flock to Walmart and Facebook’s AR lens to see what products truly “spark joy” through facial recognition because it’s a new and innovative experience. Will they stay to buy? Probably. After all, your face doesn’t lie, right?

Using content to enhance the shopping experience is a trend that we expect will only grow in the next few years. The key to a brands’ success will be creating a content experience that doesn’t feel like a hard sell.

An AR lens from @Walmart helps consumers find joy while shopping by #video. But will those smiling faces open up their purse strings while they’re on screen? Via @CMIContent Share on X

Xero Shoes gives its YouTube channel an extra kick

CEO Steven Sashen gave us a heads up about the YouTube channel for his company, Xero Shoes. Over 5 million have viewed their videos over the past 15 years.

He blends humor and candor to create videos around his company’s minimalist shoe mission – to let feet “bend, move, flex, and FEEL the world.”

In this video, Why I Don’t Wear Comfortable Shoes and Why You Shouldn’t Either, Steven spends over five minutes explaining the problem of “motion-controlling” shoes. His easy, conversational tone almost makes you miss the moment where he explains how his dad’s thick “comfortable” shoes led him to trip, fall, and die two weeks later.

The video has been viewed almost 40,000 times over the past year. It also received over 650 comments – ranging from extremely negative to extremely positive, including many that debate the merits of minimalist shoes.

Yet, Steven remains undeterred in his mission: “The polarizing nature of something so basically innocuous is incredible. Plus, responding to the negative comments allows us to tell the story even more fully,” Steven says.

The channel includes video of TV appearances mentioning the brand, along with educational videos, such as this one, where Steven discusses why your feet may have changed shape during the pandemic, and another where he responds to an article about barefoot running.

WHY IT’S HOT: Xero Shoes’ YouTube channel is a great example of how companies can use video content to create a brand personality, educate, and entertain while tying everything back to their products. You don’t need high production value to connect with audiences. In fact, in most of these videos, the camera is stationary, and Steven is sitting behind a table (you never even see what shoes he’s wearing).

Steven also recognizes the power of community, creating conversations in the comments that encourage participation and provide an additional opportunity for him to educate his audience.

@XeroShoes #YouTube channel walks the brand’s talk in its CEO’s videos, which educate, entertain, and engage consumers in thoughtful, product-centric debate via @CMIContent. Share on X

Hop on board for local travel with RVshare

While the travel industry, in general, took a hit in 2020 and 2021, the RV sector has been riding high. Forgoing planes, trains, and hotels, people sought out ways to hit the road in a more self-contained way. Yet, they weren’t traveling beyond the realities of the pandemic world.

“Encouraging people to travel far and wide felt irresponsible, especially in the height of COVID restrictions. We had to pivot,” says Megan Buemi, head of content at RVshare, a service that matches RV owners with RV renters.

The RVshare content team developed local travel guides to encourage their audience to explore their own backyards. And they took that role as local tour guide seriously, covering cities in all 50 states – from lesser-known towns like Palmer, Alaska and Buford, Georgia, to big cities like Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Each guide gives an overview that covers similar ground – the reasons we love to travel and the benefits of traveling locally. Then, it dives into the location’s specifics. Though categories like parks and hiking keep the focus on outdoor experiences, there are plenty of tips on restaurants, activities, and day trips, too.

WHY IT’S HOT: Pre-pandemic, the RV community tended to be in it for the long haul, taking their portable home on longer vacations to places far from home. But when that became dangerous, if not impossible, for health reasons, RVshare changed its content strategy. “Don’t get caught up in thinking your content strategy has to look a certain way,” Megan says. “Always ask yourself, ‘What would be good for the audience consuming this content?’”

The RVshare content team also created a great user experience – they recognized readers would only go to their local destination page, so the intro content remained the same for everyone. Plus, these guides will have a long-shelf-life, as the text can be easily updated once the pandemic effect is over.

@RVshare does a k-turn with its #ContentStrategy, filling consumers with ideas for pandemic-friendly local excursions. Chances are, they’ll keep these guides in their glove boxes for years to come via @CMIContent. Share on X

How is your brand driving its messages home in new or surprising ways to accommodate the lifestyle shifts pandemic-fatigued consumers are still adjusting to? Park yourself down in our comments section and let us know.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute