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How Renegade Mateen Zar Created Shockwaves Throughout the Footwear Industry

Erica Johnson

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Social Studies was born out of passion. Mateen says, “I decided to hone into my passion for footwear and build a career around my expertise of observing the industry over the last couple decades from a consumer standpoint. Then once I started researching and learning about the footwear development process, I became fascinated with the intricacies of the process.”

Most people have a specific type of fashion item that they love to collect. Some people like to top off their outfits with a cool jacket, spunky purse, or a statement jewelry piece. Sneakerheads are a unique group of people who seek out the trendiest and most classic sneakers available.

The sneaker market has been strong since the release of Nike’s first Air Jordan line. Since then, a sneaker frenzy has become culture. It’s been decades since the Air Jordan 1’s revolutionized how people see shoes, but the best designs live on for decades and become valuable collectible items.

Sneakers have become pieces of art and the industry continues to boom. But true fanatics, like Mateen Zar, have started to see a rising problem – stagnation in innovation and design. Because of the intense popularity of certain shoe lines, major brands too often re-release older classic designs with minor changes, like color.

Unfortunately, the industry’s focus on “hall of fame” sneakers, has forced consumers to choose between purchasing iconic looks and up-to-date trends. That’s where Social Studies comes into play. Social Studies mission is to transform the best oldies into new classics, taking what consumers love about past sneaker fashion and incorporating current trends.

Knowing the market and sneaker culture intimately, Mateen knows what people want – they want rare stand-out designs. Each line released by Social Studies is not only carefully crafted, but also comes in limited quantities, making them special and enhancing the experience for customers.

“My goal is to make sneakers for collectors that aren’t only into what’s hype at the moment or what’s been popular in the past, but also enjoys the product for its meticulous design and unique attributes. The exclusivity factor of each shoe only existing in a limited quantity is also an added benefit for collectors and consumers alike,” says Mateen.

Social Studies is one of the most ground-breaking brands on the market. The brand operates as a social experiment. Historical styles, technological innovations, consumer research, and more go into the design process. Mateen has even found inspiration in the rise of virtual reality.

“For my first silhouette shoe, I took the sock shoe trend popular at the time and gave it more structure by adding a leather construct, which is an element of a more traditional shoe. We have also embarked on the trend of the “Metaverse.” If you’re not familiar with the metaverse, it is the virtual reality world of gaming and collecting. Think Fortnite skins for example.

We released a limited quantity of digital sneakers in the Aglet app, which is our partner for all things metaverse. We are now working on bringing the meta and IRL together by incorporating physical sneakers that can only be accessed through the digital space. So, you’ll be able to purchase Social Studies through Aglet in the metaverse, and that will be your form of access to our physical products,” says Mateen.

Despite having limited experience in footwear production, Mateen’s inventive approach with Social Studies product lines have led to the brand garnering high demand and fandom.

When asked about the challenges he’s face in launching his own company, Mateen says, “there are so many different aspects that have to be focused on all at once in order for the business to be successful. From conceptualizing a design to planning and executing a marketing roll-out, it’s a lot for one person to handle. I wish I had a deeper understanding of the importance to have a team of people to work with. But that’s also something that comes with time.”

In such a saturated market, there’s little room for error. Mateen’s inexperience may have its benefits. He says, “I think the fact that I don’t come from a formal fashion education background allows for Social Studies to think outside of the box and not stick to the confines of what people are taught they are supposed to do in order to run a successful fashion company. I came into this industry from love for fashion and from being a consumer first and foremost. So my designs relate to my customers because I am one of them.”

Since its inception in 2020, Social Studies has offered much value to shoppers has expanded dramatically and continues to strengthen its operational team. This has allowed the company to explore even more versatile experimental sneakers for consumers to rave about, leading the brand to become a fierce competitor.

Mateen leads Social Studies by being highly attuned to consumer needs and preferences, characteristics that are perhaps lacking in other major brands. He says, “We are focused on empowering our customers with the shoes and clothes they wear.

This is something that I’ve noticed personally when pulling off certain outfits; it gives you a surge of confidence when you’re pulling off a fire fit. To go even deeper in interacting with our customers in a very personal way, we are working on full customization of both the footwear and the jewelry.”

Looking toward the future, Social Studies plans to introduce apparel and jewelry to its product lines. These plans will include items that Mateen says will “add some diversity to our footwear selection.” In the meantime, Social Studies will continue to revolutionize sneaker culture.

Published November 20th, 2021

Sales & Marketing

‘Bullish’ marketing industry plans to boost spending power in 2024

Courtney Shields

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‘Bullish’ marketing industry plans to boost spending power in 2024

UK marketing leaders are gearing up for a ‘bullish’ 2024, with more than 70% planning to boost digital budgets this year, new data shows.  

Following four years of economic flatlining and commercial pressures for many of the UK’s top marketers, 2024 is expected to see a resurgence in industry optimism, with increased investment being directed in key growth areas including AI, websites, SEO, broadcast and podcasts, as well as email and content marketing.  

The data from more than 500 UK marketing leaders, commissioned by search-driven content agency No Brainer, is available to in-house and agency marketers now. The first report is called the 2024 eCommerce Trends Report

In addition to No Brainer’s findings, a recent Statista report indicates the eCommerce market is set to reach a projected £100b ($124b) in the UK for the first time in 2024, and eComm marketers are poised to make 2024 the year they seize a greater share of consumer spending.  

The report by No Brainer also reveals significant spending growth in key areas of marketing, with many marketing decision markers saying they intend to invest over 60% more than they did in 2023 in the following areas: 

  1. AI: 64% to increase spend by as much as 60% 
  2. Website: 64% to increase spend by as much as 60% 
  3. SEO: 62% to increase spend by as much as 60% 
  4. TV, Radio & Podcasts: 59% to increase spend by as much as 60% 
  5. Email Marketing: 58% to increase spend by as much as 60% 
  6. Content Marketing: 57% to increase spend by as much as 60% 
  7. Digital PR: 57% to increase spend by as much as 60% 
  8. Influencer Marketing: 56% to increase spend by as much as 60% 
  9. Organic social: 56% to increase spend by as much as 60% 
  10. Paid search: 55% to increase spend by as much as 60% 

Some of the highest budget increases came from marketers working in sectors including Education with 69% increasing by up to 60%, Finance with 64% increasing by up to 60%, and Retail with 56% increasing by over 40%. Only 14% of marketing decision makers said they’ll be dialling back on budgets in 2024. 

Gary Jenkins, Director at No Brainer, said: “Four years of rising costs, inflationary pressures, and squeezed budgets has made life tough for UK marketing leaders tasked with delivering growth, but we’re expecting to see that turn around in 2024 with many taking a more bullish approach in terms of spending power. 

“This is great to see, and not just because we play in this space, but because if businesses of all sizes are serious about recovery and growth, then investing strategically in the right areas of marketing is crucial. Sadly, in challenging times, these are the things that can often be the first cut.  

“When every penny matters, like it has in recent years, then there’s a laser focus on marketing leaders proving the value of every pound they spend, and quite rightly. It’s got everyone challenging the ROI of their spending across every marketing sector, and the same rule should apply with these increased budgets.  

“It’s about putting them to best use. A solid, strategically planned marketing strategy can unlock new audiences, drive more revenue from existing ones, and drive more brand loyalty and advocacy, so it’s still a case of spending smart, even if spending more.” 

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

Tags: budget, Content Marketing, seo, spending, websites

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Why social listening platforms can’t listen – and how SocialVoice is looking to step in

Courtney Shields

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Why social listening platforms can't listen - and how SocialVoice is looking to step in

The market opportunity for brands who get influencer marketing right is huge.

According to Goldman Sachs, the creator economy is worth around $250 billion (£205.4bn) today. By 2027, it could hit $480bn (£394.5bn), in line with predicted growth for global digital advertising spend. In line with this trend is an increasing preference for brands to use nano- and micro-influencers in their campaigns. The State of Influencer Marketing 2023 Report puts this at 39% and 30% respectively. With the rise of trends such as FinTok and others front and centre, no longer is there a subject which cannot be touched by an influencer; someone passionate, authentic and knowledgeable enough to earn consumer trust.

Getting the right influencers, in terms of what they say, how they say it and how many people they say it to, is therefore vital. Indeed, an entire martech sector has mushroomed in the form of social listening. Yet Nicholas Greig, chief revenue officer at SocialVoice, has a problem with the term.

“Social listening platforms can’t listen,” explains Greig. “All they can do is scan the metadata.”

While social listening tools can look at hashtags and comments, crunch engagement rates, and look at the sentiment of the written word, SocialVoice believes there is no tool currently on the market which can get ‘inside’ a video and analyse the voice. Until now.

The aim of SocialVoice is to enable analysis of an influencer’s past activity, through every frame of every video on every platform. Tone of voice can be analysed, beyond the written word, to assuage fears around brand safety as well as brand fit. This can go from the usual sentiment analysis to understanding personal versus corporate tone, to extrovert versus introvert, to liberal versus conservative. “Because we’re moving to nano- and micro-influencers, we’re not bringing them in for shoots anymore, so we’re relying on the quality of their recording,” explains Greig.

From a technology standpoint, it will not be a surprise that AI is at the heart of the solution, with three primary facets; deep analysis using machine learning tools, statistical approaches to identify pattern correlation across time-based events, and processing at speed. Almost two thirds of those polled in the State of Influencer Marketing report (63%) plan to use AI in executing their influencer campaigns, with two thirds of those brands using it for influencer identification.

What this looks like in terms of product is the Influencer Integrity Report, the first go-to-market effort from SocialVoice. The analysis of time-based events and processing at speed is combined so brand managers can input the influencer link and then get a report soon afterwards backed up by industry standards – toxic and profane content is based on GARM (Global Alliance for Responsible Media) metrics – and headlined by an overall trust score (left).

In the example MarketingTech saw, regarding a well-known influencer in the skincare industry, a specific brand appeared 273 times based on hashtag and written word analysis. For video scripts, the brand appeared 3648 times (right). Tone of voice noted variance between neutral and joyful.

Greig believes this will solve a fundamental industry problem. “We realised that there were some very big problems in the world of influencer marketing that, despite its growth, were affecting uptake from industry sectors such as banking, or from industry sectors where compliance and conservatism was more prevalent,” says Greig.

“These problems come around the fact that not a single influencer discovery platform in the world can be trusted to do proper vetting, or background checking, of the influencer,” adds Greig. “Checking influencers takes hours, and they can’t go back and check everything that an influencer has ever said – so they cut corners, they look at a random sample of videos, and then they go into a campaign [with a] lack of trust in whether the influencer has any hidden surprises in their background.”

While it remains early days, Greig notes that the trust score is the key element for customers on board thus far. The company has trademarked the term ‘trust my voice’ in anticipation not just of this, but for future cases beyond the brand and agency side. “One of the ways where we see this going forward is that influencers themselves on their profile will have a ‘trust my voice’ link,” offers Greig. “They’ll have that from a software as a service perspective.”

SocialVoice is exhibiting at the upcoming DMWF Europe event, on 21-22 November in Amsterdam, with something a little more enticing than usual. Those who visit the stand will have the ability to have one free check of an influencer of their choice – so the company has a strong bet on their value proposition.

“I think it will shock people as to just how limited the information is they have to make right decisions, and just how open they are to problems,” says Greig.

“We are still very much in a concept [phase],” he adds. “It’s going to be very difficult for anyone to compete against us. It’s not just the AI ability, it’s the scale of what it is that we’re doing; it’s the ability to do it at speed and do thousands of influencers at the same time.”

Insert picture credit: SocialVoice

Photo by Daniel Gaffey on Unsplash

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

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Clevertouch creates European consultancy and empowers marketers with AI marketing automation

Courtney Shields

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Clevertouch Marketing, a marketing technology consulting and service provider, has formed a new strategic team to drive customer conversion from martech across its European client base.

This, in conjunction with new AI product development in its proprietary Momentum software, will bring productivity in martech to the forefront, at a time when marketers need it most acutely.

As Clevertouch Marketing changes its overall name to Clevertouch Consulting, the company has created a senior team focused on client revenue generation, customer insights and conversion metrics. The team is also investing in the development of new powerful AI marketing tools.

The development of ContentAI, a feature within Clevertouch Consulting’s Momentum software, ensures artificial intelligence is driving maximum productivity within Clevertouch customer marketing teams. It allows the rewrite of email and landing page content, greatly improving the capabilities of marketers and reducing the time it takes to launch assets. ContentAI is backed by a unique persona toolset that allows marketers to ensure generated content fits the tone and personality of the teams and the business. Momentum is used by leading brands such as Fujitsu, Atos and British Land.

To support this, Clevertouch Consulting has strengthened its leadership with a mix of promotions and hires. Elaine Webley has been appointed as COO and CMO to lead operations and marketing strategy, having previously served as Managing Director and Client Services Director. Stuart West, previously Vice President International of BrightTALK, will hold the Chief Revenue Officer position and lead the team across its services and SaaS products. Jamie Burrell, responsible for the company’s consulting services, will take the position of Chief Strategy Officer, and CEO and founder, Adam Sharp, will provide ongoing leadership and market insights. Lucy Larner also joins Clevertouch as Chief Financial Officer after fifteen years in various SMB finance roles.

Adam Sharp, CEO at Clevertouch Consulting, said: “Economic times are tough, and as marketers we all have to sharpen our focus on revenue delivery, customer conversion and productivity within our day-to-day activities. We are committed to investing in the most advanced marketing products and services, driving the efficiencies created by AI, but also backed by a super strategic team to give clients the best possible business outcomes.

“Our name change reflects the changing nature of the business and the desire for clients to bring the martech capability in house, with the support of Clevertouch Consulting to optimise their investment.”

Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person? Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.

  • Duncan MacRae

    Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.

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Tags: AI, Clevertouch, consultancy, Europe

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