Rebecca Johnson is a strategist from Los Angeles working for Concept Bureau. She dives deep into culture, analyzing behaviors, finding patterns, and forecasting trends in spaces like the Metaverse and in industries like finance, healthcare, beauty and more. Some of their clients are Hubspot, Upwork, or Dia & Co, among others.
Whisbi is a Live Commerce platform that provides services like Live Video Shopping, Virtual Selling, Live Broadcasting and more. We help brands achieve 100% of their web revenue potential through online sales conversations powered by video. In this series ‘Whisbi Talks’ we’re inviting experts of the Live Shopping world to share their experiences and knowledge with us around these topics. Please read on!
Let’s start by getting to know you. Can you give a brief introduction about yourself?
I’m a Strategist at a brand strategy agency called Concept Bureau. My work involves diving deep into research around culture, to really understand the norms that impact people’s behaviors and attitudes. In addition to understanding the past and present, my work is also about predicting where culture is going in the future and how brands should follow, focus, or lead in their own spaces. I’ve always been really curious about culture and in my work, I seek to understand what really moves people and find ways to bring these ideas to life in brands through storytelling. It’s really about identifying the patterns that lead to unexpected insights and meaningful ideas.
We’ve read your article about relevance for brands where you’re saying ‘being relevant is a dying industry’, can you elaborate on that?
When you look at the world of advertising it’s becoming just a numbers game. Whoever spends the most dollars wins the most eyes and attention. But what we know now is that people hate being sold to, they really want to feel seen. They want to see things that are personalized and customized to their needs. In addition to that, with Apple’s approach to privacy, it really limits the visibility of ads that can go out to people. This has huge implications for how you want to find and reach your audience. If everybody is putting in ad blockers and privacy limitations, how else are you going to find your target audience? And so the stakes have really been raised and what’s capturing people’s attention aren’t just things that are relevant to us, but feel much more relatable. We’re seeking experiences that make us feel connected on a much deeper level. More than we ever used to.
Which brands are building good attempts in engaging with their audiences and creating that much needed deeper connection?
One is an app and another one is a campaign that I recently saw. Let’s talk about the app first, it’s called Chill Pill. It’s a mental health app that’s targeted to Gen Z and they’re doing something really interesting, where they focus on facilitating deep connections through anonymity. You don’t know what anyone on the app looks like but these spaces feel very intimate, where young people can just come in and vent with each other without making it feel depressing. The idea behind it is that rather than just focusing on a traditional patient to client relationship – you can have really intimate, relatable conversations by removing barriers through anonymity. Here, anonymity is facilitating relatability.
And then there’s Reddit. They recently launched a very smart campaign called ‘Find your people’. They focus on capturing the idea of finding the people in your community that just “get it”. It truly captures the feeling of finding somebody or a group of people that truly understands you, where there’s an immediate connection, given off by subtle or not so subtle identity signals. It’s being able to immediately understand where this person is coming from, who this person is, and how you can relate to them. It’s a sort of subconscious connection. At Concept Bureau, we’re seeing communities are becoming the new brands and the way we connect with each other is more and more being facilitated by relatability.
Do you think that live video and live streams are a tool for connecting deeper with your audience and if so, in which sense?
What you’re doing with live video is capturing moments in real-time and I think those interactions can’t be performed. It’s all about genuinely wanting to connect with people who are watching the live stream. They can ask questions, you can help them on the spot and it opens an opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level.
Which questions do you think that brands need to consider if they want to pay attention to how they can relate with their audience?
First, you have to ask yourself, “what people are truly seeking?” Beyond what you’re selling, what are you doing to make people feel seen? Not just from a demographic point of view but more deeply from an identity perspective. Your audience, subconsciously or not, is asking questions like “what can this brand show or reveal something about who I am as a person?” It’s about tapping into the types of feelings that nobody has validated for before. It’s like, when somebody says something and you feel like: that’s exactly what I was thinking this entire time or how I have been feeling. When you focus on these types of motivations, your approach to building relationships with your customers completely changes. You have to look deeper than what you’re seeing at face value.
How much do you think this scenario would change with the rise of the Metaverse?
It would change a lot. We’re seeing a lot of brands moving into the Metaverse already. It opens up a lot of possibilities, because in the Metaverse you don’t have to match the way you look virtually with how you look in the physical world. Demographic information and targeting your audience in that way won’t take you that far, so you have to search for the identity signals that bring people together. What is it that makes people feel truly themselves in this space? How are they expressing that? In a virtual setting there are many more ways to create intimate connections between brands and people in ways we’ve never been able to before. As brand owners, we are tasked to find those signals, and in this new world, learn the new language and culture that is being formed in these spaces and find ways to build loyal relationships based off of that.
Talking about the Metaverse, how do you see the Live Shopping environment within this space?
The future of e-Commerce is becoming more and more social. Live Shopping is definitely a part of that too. One important thing to consider here is who is facilitating that conversation. This is more than just selling products. It’s about find the right relatable people, and the stories that they tell through the experience. When it comes to Live Shopping, there is opportunity to create real moments by having it facilitated by someone people can relate to. For example, on TikTok there are dozens of people who feel close to Doja Cat. Although, she’s a big star she feels like a “real” person when you’re watching her videos. You feel like you’re building a more intimate relationship with her.
Do you have any tips or recommendations for brands that want to master the craft of getting their message to video?
Relatability is all about practicing cultural empathy, so truly understanding what’s happening in culture and what people care about. Not simply what we’re seeing on the surface, but what’s driving them to behave the way they do, and what makes them tick. What are the deep stories people are telling themselves and how can you try to leverage that in a way to connect with people. In addition to that, can you back it up with action? Especially younger generations feel like words are just words without action and so you have to also do what you say. When brands back their words with real actions that matter, you are further building loyalty and brand equity.
What are your sources of inspiration?
First of all, being immersed in this world, I’m shamelessly on social media a lot. I love finding out what people are into and I’m a naturally curious person so I just want to know what’s happening and what people like. Also, I make a habit of consuming interesting articles and content regularly, and I follow a lot of other strategists as well in this space who are also immersed into culture. The main thing about being a strategist is absorbing and observing your own surroundings in your own life, and I’m always on the lookout for what other people are doing.
Who is the most interesting person that you would recommend us to talk to?
Personally, I think that the people that I work with are the most interesting people in my current day to day life. Other than that, Matt Klein – he’s the Head of Social Insight at Reddit. I’ve been following his work for a short while and he always shares great insights when it comes to culture and trends.