THOUGHTS

How To Make Consumers Care? The Great Reset in Marketing

How to Make Consumers Care? The Great Reset In Marketing

Advertising is Broken

Advertising is broken. Brand positioning statements are flawed. Please stop trying to boil the essence of a brand down to a single sentence. It doesn’t work anymore. Don’t you see that? A single piece of creative is not able to engage all those you target. With so many messages hitting your consumers, that one piece of creative is not going to excite for very long. The digital footprint of a brand is about more than a social media page with some base content. Do real consumers ever visit a Kit Kat or Pantene Facebook page? Add botted engagement by fake accounts and flawed metrics and ask yourself if you are actually creating relevant content that people care about?

Choice Stress is Coming

Shelves are extremely crowded, the world is globalizing and even small manufacturers are trying to internationalize. The amount of choice we are facing as consumers, in every single category is increasing exponentially, every day. If left unchecked I’ll predict it will result in choice stress where people will just subscribe to a meal plan curated by someone else, to not have to spend the mental time to worry about what to get for dinner tonight. If Mark Zuckerberg is already stressed out about clothing, and has limited himself to just wearing black t-shirts, could it be that consumers in the future will follow when it comes to what food they buy or what other consumption choices they make?

Lazy Innovation is a wait-and-see (and then copy) game

Stop pushing products that people do not want. It is not about quantity; it is about quality. Just because you have the capabilities to make something, doesn’t mean I’m going to consume it. Lazy innovation is seen in every category. The true pioneers or innovators are often the small players. Once they establish a market, then 100 clones will pop up tomorrow to try and ride the wave and take away that success. The big money is too often, waiting for proof of concept to be established by someone else, instead of utilizing those big budgets, those tremendous insight generation capabilities and all the other resources at their disposal to lead the way. Put some marketing budget behind something you’ve copied and those with the deepest pockets will end up walking away with the biggest share. Not the proudest of moments when it comes to insight generation, right?

We don’t need Bad Innovation

Plant based foods is a good example. Sustainable choices. Vegan options. Alternative protein. Every category in food is flooded by this recent trend. Every manufacturer is jumping on the train trying to stake their claim early and fast. Are we pushing out high quality products that are better than before? Or rushing stuff out just to capture attention and share of shelf? If you turn the pack around and see a nutritional table that doesn’t fit on the pack or is filled with ingredients you never heard of, with names don’t understand, I would give that company a bit more time to get R&D to work on a v2 and v3, maybe even a v4 or v5 before you start eating those burgers. Sure they look good, the taste, texture and aroma are acceptable. The next stress test, is it actually good for me?

So How? To Make ‘Em Care

Make ‘em Care! That is our job as marketeers. How? Good products that solve needs. Actual needs. Whether it is about incremental small improvements that result in better solutions than what is out there already or revolutionary new product concepts that tap into latent needs because you understand where converging trends are taking consumers and where markets and categories are headed. Be honest, how many fantastic innovations got you excited as a marketeer, that didn’t make it to market? Wrong words on a product concept board, a flawed way of validating a concept – in your heart you knew you were onto something, but it got canned anyway? Why? Large corporates are run for 95% by financials, it means taking risk and trying something new is quickly penalized if it doesn’t lead to results instantly. But innovation requires failure. The geniuses of the world failed more times than most of us would ever care trying. Were you ever able to learn a language in one go? It takes time, a lot of real effort, adjustment of your pronunciation when people don’t understand you and eventually you get fluent at it, but it takes time. The same goes for improving & innovating brands.

Being Agile beats Strategy & Research. Speed is the New Currency.

You don’t need that much strategy and research. Spend some actual time with consumers, listen to them, engage with them from your perspective, connect the dots, take a lot of action, try different things, apply quick and small-scale testing and be agile in adjusting concepts, many times until the consumer tells you that you’re onto something and gets excited. Even then adjust post-launch and stay agile. Small iterations over time are often too big of an ask for multi-disciplinary innovation teams that are driven by short-term KPI’s and minds that quickly wander and loose interest after that one-day workshop. Quick results are needed to show the shareholders, secure the next bonus or the next pay increase. Building a good solid innovation process often takes longer than the typical employment term in a marketing director’s contract. People want fast result they can take credit for, to put on their resume to help secure the next, better position with better pay – often at a different company. The innovation mechanics we are currently using are often not able to produce the results that are needed.

Building Brands is Key. But not in the Old Ways.

Communication, traditional advertising is having a hard time since forever, but it is at least impressive how the eco-system has kept itself afloat for so long, without making any real change needed to keep pace with how fast consumers are moving. Big name ECD’s and CMO’s that are chasing awards to get recognition for that big idea, that resonates more with their ego than with the consumer is not what is going to build a brand. Consideration is built on social. That is where most time is spend these days. Brands need to evolve beyond the one-line positioning statement. If a brand is like a person, isn’t there more to your personality than a single line of copy? Should so much of a budget still be allocated to just a single execution? Or would it be better to tap into different aspects of a personality? Try different things! Allow to adapt and contextualize content to the channel, to the audience you are trying to reach. See what goes viral, what gets picked up. Try and understand why and then try do more of that? What infrastructure is needed to get there? Start building that if you are a true innovator or pioneer in your field.

Who will emerge victorious? Those that embrace taking risk

It’ll be interesting to see how marketing will evolve, which brands will end up as the real winners. What agencies will be around once AI takes over creative and content production. My bet is it’ll be those brands that allow for taking risk, that are willing to try different things, at scale not just on a microscopic level. Where executives will spend more time with consumers than in meetings, to listen, to engage, to connect dots that others don’t see.

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