Brand lessons from the UBA Trends Day 2021

Brand lessons from the UBA Trends Day 2021

What is trending in marketing, branding and culture, and what can brands learn from it? This question gathered a record number of brand managers, communication specialists and marketing professionals at the UBA Trends Day on Thursday, March 18.

The virtual event welcomed international speakers Seth Godin, Katrina Dodd and Martin Lindstrom to discuss the latest trends across marketing, branding and culture. Meanwhile, hosts Peter Hinssen and Steven Van Belleghem, broadcasting live from Tour & Taxis in Brussels, challenged the speakers with pertinent questions. In case you missed it, here are our key take-aways from UBA Trends Day 2021.

Say goodbye to the average

According to ‘the godfather of modern marketingSeth Godin, in order to be successful and authentic, brands should stop serving the average customer and start focusing on their smallest viable audience, by making sure everything they do fits with that small target group.

He believes that marketing starts off with inventing a thing worth making, with a story worth telling, and a contribution worth talking about. It should be designed and built in a way that a few people will particularly benefit from and care about. Then a story can be told that matches the built-in narrative and dreams of that tiny group of people, the smallest viable market. His advice is to spread the word and show up – regularly, consistently, and generously, for years and years – to organize and lead and build confidence in the change you seek to make. To earn permission to follow up and earn enrollment to teach.

Marketing in five steps - UBA Trends Day

Thinking differently is not enough

Katrina Dodd, a trend watcher at the reputed company Contagious for more than 15 years, focused on three important trends: Virtual Necessity, Social Commerce and The Great Reset.

Virtual Necessity

Dodd highlighted that during the pandemic the best businesses didn`t just put their products/ services online; they went back to the beginning and rethought the building blocks of what they do, why they exist and the value they add to consumers’ lives.

A shift from consumer experience to creative experience is also a visible trend, meaning that the industry is moving from minimizing friction to maximizing desire. The focus lies on differentiating brand experience by bringing it in line with the brand’s promises and values. Dodd quoted Jean Lin, the Global Executive Chairman of Isobar, who believes that thriving in this new environment means leveraging the new creative canvas to design experiences that are distinctive, delightful and disarmingly human.

Social shopping - UBA Trends Day

Social Commerce

For the first time in history, eCommerce sales accounted for all retail sales gains, as a direct result of the global pandemic. The US Census Bureau found that during the pandemic, we saw the equivalent of 3 to 5 years growth in just a few months.

Despite the rapid growth of eCommerce, customers still want to enjoy shopping in-store, according to A.T. Kearney’s Future Consumer Report. Brands that recognized this are trying to bring the online shopping experience closer to the in-store experience. The focus has shifted from the platform to the people, and from functional to fun, by organizing live shopping events and shared experiences online.

The Great Reset

The idea that business is broken has been gaining momentum over the past few years, as it is benefitting the few at the expense of the many. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely stated that capitalism has a lot going for it, but untamed capitalism can devastate us. Edelman’s Trust Barometer found that 56% of people agree that capitalism is doing more harm than good.

At the World Economic Forum, the IMF and the UN, alongside several highly influential CEOs, stated that the pandemic created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to implement structural changes and to switch from shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism. It’s time for companies to act smarter, fairer and greener.

Martin Lindstrom - UBA Trends Day

Shift back to common sense

Imagine being in a hotel during a business trip, in desperate need to relax after a busy day. You pick up the TV remote and are faced with three numeric keypads and several power buttons. You press a button and the air conditioning comes on. This predicament led author Martin Lindstrom to asking: “Am I too stupid to switch on a TV?

As a result of the complexity of our current world, thinking about bureaucracy, compliance, regulations, guidelines and rules, we’re drifting too far away from what customers really need. We’ve lost track of ‘common sense’. According to Lindstrom, brands must revert to seeing things as they are, do things as they need to be done, and treat customers and employees as they would expect to be treated themselves.

Looking at things from this perspective, brands should set out to understand what the actual needs of customers are in order to optimize products, shop designs, employee connections and so on.

Empathy is key in customer and employee relationships

Focusing on this need for common sense, Lindstrom added that we shouldn’t forget empathy as a key element in this story. Common sense is seeing the world from multiple viewpoints, whilst empathy is having the capacity to understand what other people experience within their frame of reference and to put yourself in their position.

According to Lindstrom, empathy should no longer be perceived as a cheesy skill for softies, but as a key element in striving for a ‘common-sense world’. It should be a critical factor in creating a company, interacting with customers, and managing change.

Ultimately, it comes down to companies incorporating the concept of empathy in their corporate structure and in their connection with both employees and customers. By putting many people in an organization in contact with the customer, direct input can be captured and played upon, because “a response can’t make something better, but a connection can”.

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