By the time their DIY teeth whitening brand had been on the market for 18 months, HiSmile co-founders Nik Mirkovic and Alex Tomic had generated $10 million in global e-commerce sales.
With just $20,000 in start-up capital, the young Queenslanders bootstrapped their way to success by harnessing digital and social trends, including influencer-led marketing, to address a gap in the oral hygiene market for products that resonated with 15 to 24 year olds.
Since reaching the $10 million milestone last May, HiSmile has shown no signs of slowing down. According to Mirkovic and Tomic, HiSmile is now the largest teeth-whitening company in terms of social media following and it is on track to hit $40 million in sales by the time it marks its third birthday in December.
Drawing on their own experiences with HiSmile, the entrepreneurial duo identified for Dynamic Business the five social and digital trends that will help start-ups generate customer growth in 2017:
1. Live streaming
Live streaming isn’t new – it’s been a feature of Facebook for some time, and underpins platforms such as Periscope and Musical.ly. However, with Instagram’s recent adoption of Live, it’s beginning to reach critical mass. We expect to see a lot more Live and we’re extremely excited to see what Snapchat can implement in this area. Live adds a “real” aspect to the business… if you broadcast live there’s no editing; what you see is what you get. People love this as it makes your company more relatable. We’re experimenting on Instagram Live, and we’ve had amazing interaction and engagement so far.
2. Full screen Advertising
With Snapchat’s 3V ads, Facebook’s forthcoming Facebook Stories and Instagram’s Stories, we’re seeing a shift towards full-screen mobile content. The ability to advertise across the whole screen puts marketers in complete control. Attention is the name of the game, so why settle for a tiny banner ad in the bottom right hand corner of a consumer’s screen? HiSmile already utilises Instagram Stories and Snapchat to push out content, as well as Facebook’s new full screen videos.
3. Augmented Reality (AR)
Pokémon Go made a huge splash when it was first released! While it has since fallen off, we’re extremely interested in seeing what the other platforms will bring to the table in this space.
4. Virtual Reality (VR)
We predict there’ll be a more widespread uptake in VR, which has been driven by gamers to date. Snapchat and Facebook have even hinted at its use and we’re excited to know how this technology is being trialed behind closed doors. Like AR, VR is an interactive marketing strategy that has the potential to drive stronger engagement between consumers and the brands they care about. Ultimately, AR and VR will allow businesses to tell even more dynamic brand stories, which in turn gives people more of a reason to consumer their content.
5. Messenger apps
There will be leap forward in terms of what’s possible with Messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger, inspired by what China has achieved with its WeChat app. We’ll also see big moves by businesses in the space, especially now that Facebook allows businesses to sell to consumers directly through Messenger. The automated Messenger store sends frequent tracking updates and answers common FAQ’s through Messenger all automatically.