How can you bring your brand closer to consumers?

Last Thursday I attended the UBA Trends Day in Brussels (BE). A not-to-miss yearly appointment with the crème de la crème of the Belgian advertising industry. The line-up of speakers promised to offer us a great day and at the end of day it was the only woman on stage who really caught my attention. Meabh Quoirin is Managing Director of The Future Foundation and co-author of The Big Lie, recently voted Marketing Book of the Year 2014. Meabh presented to us the 10 biggest trends for 2014. I lined up the 5 consumer trends that inspired me the most:

1. Unique belonging

As social creatures we desire individuality, but at the same time we want approval and validation from the crowd. There is a fine line between fitting in and standing out. In essence everybody wants to stand out from the crowd, but only just a little bit. We want to be a little bit different from almost everyone, but fitting in matters more. The Power of ME duels the Value of WE… thus creating a marketing duality where the consumer’s need to buy into the crowd is stronger than any self-respected need…

2. Recreate

We have always been creative (baking cupcakes, knitting scarfs…), but in our info-perfect world we feel the need to amplify our creativity more than before. And although co-creation is hot these days, how many consumers will actually contribute to a brand’s new products, advertising or marketing campaign? The challenge for brands lies in making it convenient for consumers to be creative and helping them amplify their personal creativity.

Meabh showed us a nice example: the Beefeater My London edition. Pernod Ricard asked Londoners to submit their favorite photograph of London, reflecting what their city means to them. From over 1,000 submissions, a jury of photography connoisseurs selected the 20 winning images that were used to create one limited-edition Beefeater bottle.

3. Total Recall & Consumer Capital

In this day and age, why do we have to remember anything? Technology can just do it for you. As an illustration Meabh shared the HEARD app, which runs in the background on your smartphone. It continuously listens to nearby audio and even offers you the opportunity to save it for replay anytime and to share it online.
A total recall of everything will re-define what great customer service means. Research by the Future Foundation shows that 1 in 2 consumers would consider giving companies access to information about their past purchases in exchange for discounts on products/services. Thus offering opportunities for brands, using technology to help consumers sell to themselves.

But while consumers want to share personal information with companies, they also want more control of this information and the way it is stored by companies. Therefore brands should only use personal information in a meaningful and engaging experience. For instance, an airline company using a person’s flight details to inform them through mobile that their flight is delayed might feel meaningful for the consumer who is running late but at the same time it may feel disruptive and annoying for a passenger who has already arrived at the airline’s boarding area.

4. Anonymity

If you think about all the buzz surrounding Snowden, for Meabh the most interesting part of that discussion was that people really did not care all that much. Consumers have reached a more mature phase of social networking, e.g. no longer sharing everything, using their privacy settings a lot more than before and creating a hierarchy in their contacts. We still want to share our dully accurate information, but we no longer share it with everyone. Joeri Van den Bergh recently wrote an article on the cloaking trend among Generation Y, confirming this trend among younger generations as well.

5. Networked data

Every brand has a story to tell these days. Meabhe even stated that content marketing can become really boring when you are a consumer. So the message for brands is to use consumer data to tell your consumers’ story instead of your brand’s story. Just think of tools and apps that track information about who we are, what we do, which goals we reach and that consumers can use to amplify their lives.

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