Meeting of the Minds: DX3 Toronto
On a warm late-winter morning, leaders from Canada’s retail, marketing, and technology industries converged on the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, for DX3 2020.
Founded in 2010, DX3 has grown into Canada’s biggest retail, marketing, and technology event, and this year’s edition had over 3,200 participants. The annual two-day event was cut-short due to coronavirus - more specifically, an article that had appeared the morning of day-two which confirmed an attendee at a different conference held the week prior at the same venue had tested positive for the virus.
That was a shame, as day one of the conference was a massive success - and we were amazed by how well the event was run. With two summit rooms - one on retail and the other focused on marketing and innovation, attendees could hear first-hand from leaders in Canada’s retail and marketing landscape; from leading CPGs to retailers to marketing gurus, discussions were on-point and engaging. Storytelling and branded entertainment were the buzz words de jour on how to best connect with consumers and cut through all the clutter.
One of the main takeaways was that Canadian brands are actively pivoting towards creative, digital endeavours. 2018 and 2019 seemed to be the year of “the talk”: vocalizing new marketing terms such as “disruptor brands” and “personalized content”, considering a budget shift from TV ads to digital storytelling, accepting that the new generation of consumers are smart, young and tech savvy, etc. Now, finally, we are seeing “the walk”: implementing these buzzwords into marketing strategy, producing short-form, brand-sponsored, digital series, creating innovative, personalized, activations. And these risks are paying off!
As part of one of the more forward-thinking panels, toy retailers, Toys”R”Us, whose US and UK divisions filed for bankruptcy in 2017, moved all initiatives to the Canadian market. Needing to re-align with their old customer base and connect with a new audience, the company experimented with a more personalized experience. Opening a handful of small retail stores that incorporated hands-on activations, and refocusing B2C advertising efforts from print to digital platforms with fun, youthful, creative ads and games, returned consumers to the magic of their childhood. This strategy shift appealed to a young, millennial, digital parent, while at the same time, held their previous demo utilizing childhood nostalgia. Toys”R”Us is embracing this new age of technology and storytelling content and will hopefully thrive thanks to these new efforts.
Another forward-thinking brand on the panel was HelloFresh. Realizing digital content and entertainment is now King (and Queen), they pivoted their brand efforts within the saturated meal kit delivery market. Late last year, HelloFresh connected with consumers using celebrity ambassadors and scripted, digital shorts. Playing on their current brand message to “take the drama out of dinner” they created short Soap Opera-type vignettes starring Schitt’s Creek’s Annie Murphy. This positioned the brand as a disruptor in the PR landscape, while also labelling themselves as youthful, risk takers. Adding some edginess to your brand is key when connecting with clever millennials who relate to companies that are willing to take a chance and apologize for their mistakes. Authenticity always wins. HelloFresh was also smart in utilizing a well-known and beloved celebrity which introduced a large, new audience to the brand.
Aside from the panels, other installations included a retail lab, where one could brainstorm ideas; a game zone, profiling VR and its applications in marketing; and a meditation zone, the calm we all need within our marketing storms. Everything was put together perfectly to utilize technology in an era of fickle consumers.
DX3 Toronto may have been unexpectedly cut short, but the one-day event made a lasting impression, a solid connection, and we cannot wait to attend DX3 2021.