Boots ups Christmas digital spend with bet on personalised 'Bootiques' and QR codes

For its Christmas campaign, Boots has drastically upped digital to 55% of the total budget - a record investment hinged on the idea it has cracked what a personalised, interactive shopping should look like in 2019.

A humorous festive film remains at the heart of the campaign. It’s an attempt to position the brand as a helpful resource for the anxious buyer and is less about the cosmetic sharing mothers-and-daughters it targeted in 2018 and more about guiding hapless souls through modern gifting.

It explores numerous tribes, or 'Bootiques', and was made with the vision that it could then be trimmed into shorter films that would address specific audiences in microtargeted ads.

Adam Zavalis, brand and marketing director of Boots, explained: "We are trying to drive mass personalisation at scale, we have a huge amount of data, 15 million active ad card users as well as those who come into our stores.

"Customers are expecting messages, to be tailored contextual and relevant, it is important to be in a strong position with data to communicate in a modern way."

Digital spend is up from 42% in 2018 to 55% underlining this newfound belief in hyper-targeted and hyper-personalised ads that coincides with the launch of its digital advantage card earlier this year.

The campaign is all anchored on driving traffic to a yet-to-launch ‘Build Your Own Bootique’ tool, a cross between a digital wishlist and fully personalisable e-commerce shop. Consumers can create, share and curate these shops to encapsulate numerous interests, fitness, veganism, and more trends crop up.

In the real world, it will roll out physical pop-ups in-store (359 stores) called The Sleep Boutique, The Love Boutique, The Tween Boutique. It hopes this can inspire shoppers to create their own, which will be plastered in QR codes in an attempt to meld the physical and digital experiences.

The retailer said it wants to make "100%" of its comms shoppable and QR codes will also run across its print campaign to enourage shoppers to 'Bootique' sites.

Zavalis added: "We are not just targeting people with Bootiques that we think they are interested in, we want them to create their own. They can create something bespoke and we could end up with millions of very bespoke user-created boutiques. It is a broad opportunity."

He also said that Boots might gain some inspiration for future stores and trends - as well as gathering actionable, first-party marketing data as more people use it.

We need to "need to trial new things, be innovative and dynamic," he concluded.

A group of WPP agencies developed the work, including Ogilvy UK, Mediacom, Geometry and Bookmark.

Dede Laurentino, Ogilvy's chief creative officer, told The Drum, that it was based on the insight that people want to buy fewer, but better, gifts at Christmas.

Laurentino said: "There are tribes, many that maybe didn't exist previously. This year, people want to give fewer but better gifts to their inner circle. The job of getting it right is heightened.

"Every piece of comms is shoppable, you can point your phone at it and go straight to that website and buy the product or build your own personal Bootique to share with friends."

It will launch on Saturday (9 November) simultaneously on ITV, Channel 4, Sky, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Later there will be increasing support in social media, PR, experiential and via the Boots Advantage Card. The brand expects to reach over 21 million people in 24 hours.

Earlier this year Boots overhauled its bricks-and-mortar stores and bringing fresh brands into the fold as it looks to keep its grip on the burgeoning market. But now, it is empowering consumers to also create their own stores.

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