In a world of increasing consumer control, it’s crucial for dynamic marketers to be aware of the latest trends, cultural movements and societal insights. Last week’s BITELIVE event hosted by Creative Brief invited the world’s leading brands and their agencies on stage to reveal how they stay attuned to the cultural zeitgeist to deliver truly remarkable campaigns.
From Insight to Action:
Below are our favourite trends from the event that are set to shape how we communicate with our customers and fuel strategic growth in 2018:
- Be transparent
- Help your customers on their ‘self-improvement journey’
- Be inclusive
1.The future is “transparency”
In a recent survey of over 10,000 consumers from around the world, 78% of people said it is ‘somewhat or very important for a company to be transparent,’ with 70% of respondents claiming to make a point of knowing more about the companies they buy from.
The internet in general, and social media more specifically has allowed brands to develop value systems, personalities and relationships with consumers. Resultantly, consumers expect to know a lot more about your brand than ever before. This means that companies are expected to not only be transparent about the products themselves but also about their overarching values.
According to author and TED Talk speaker Simon Sinek, the fundamental difference between leading brands and everyone else is that they start with the “WHY”, that is to say, “why are we doing this and what is our brand’s higher purpose?”
To explain this concept, Sinek has developed what he calls the “Golden Circle” which consists of three layers:
- Why– This is the core belief of the business and is why the business exists
- How- This is how the business fulfils that belief
- What- This is what the business does to fulfil that belief
It sounds easy, but what Sinek found is that most companies do their marketing the wrong way around- starting with the ‘what’, moving onto the ‘how’ and rarely mentioning the ‘why’ behind what they do.
Lush Cosmetics are a winning example of a brand clearly demonstrating their ‘higher purpose’ (or their ‘why’). They have been fighting animal testing since the early 90s and is what many people know the company for. For this reason, the company does not sell to mainland China because of its compulsory animal-testing on cosmetic products. Commercially speaking, this is a huge loss of revenue for the company, but what the brand has established is that above all else it’s crucial for them to act responsibly and stay true to their values to remain authentic.
In 2018, it will no longer be enough for brands to deliver a good product and be trustworthy. Consumers want brands that represent something bigger than themselves, and these days, not only are brands expected to improve the lives of their consumers, but they also need to do their bit for society as a whole.
2. Self Improvement
Once reserved as a trend for the start of a new year, ‘self improvement’ has already emerged and is a hot topic that brands need to be tapping into.
You might be inclined to think that ‘self-improvement’ simply means looking good in that ideal Instagram shot. Instead, for many, self-improvement involves learning and discovering more about ourselves- whether it’s mastering a new language, sticking to a gym routine or learning a new skill.
Reebok has made a bid for this territory with its ‘Be more human’ campaign, which seeks to reposition fitness as a pursuit beyond the physical. By focusing on the psychological and social benefits of exercise, the interactive, multimedia campaign puts Reebok at the centre of consumers’ personal missions to become better human beings.
Samsung’s Be Fearless campaign, saw 27 people use VR to overcome their fear of heights or public speaking. Participants underwent a four-week VR training course intended to help them confront their fear and find ways to overcome it. Those afraid of public speaking, for example, faced a series of VR environments in which they were asked to speak, starting with a small crowd and building up to a large audience. VR training helped 87% of those afraid of heights to reduce their anxiety level by 24%. Meanwhile, 88% of those afraid of public speaking reduced their anxiety levels by 19%.
For consumers in 2018, the brands they’ll notice, engage with, love, are those that help them be the people they want to be. For marketers this means identifying what it is your customers truly want and going one step further by helping them achieve their goals.
3. The connected world
Connectivity is arguably the most important game changer in the history of marketing. Granted, it can no longer be considered a new buzzword and advancements in technology means that we are more connected than we have ever been before. But connectivity today, or being connected is more about being human than being digital. And for brand marketers in 2018, a key trend to consider is that people are driven to connect by the desire to interact and enjoy relatable experiences.
One way in which brands are trying to remain connected to audiences is by being actively inclusive as possible, whether they’re focusing on representing race, sexuality or size.
A campaign from earlier this year from yoga apparel retailer LuluLemon demonstrated how to get this right. Rather than spend a lot on advertising, the Vancouver-based brand opted for a video campaign to depict yoga’s inclusive philosophy by highlighting activities from surfing to singing (and just about everything in between!) The campaign emphasises how meditation and self-discipline learned from yoga translates into other pursuits and that yoga is not exclusive but ‘open to everyone’
“The irony is that it’s all about yoga,” said Duke Stump, exec-VP of brand and community at Lululemon. “One of our goals was to make it aspirational but both accessible and inclusive so people can see how yoga can be part of their everyday life.”
Inclusive marketing is marketing to specific demographics without relying on stereotypes. This means creating a visual culture that is more representative and seeks to illuminate places of commonality. Already we are seeing brands becoming increasingly aware of the diverse nature of their customer base- and more conscious of the social, political and cultural forces circulating their brands and products.