Last week I attended The Economist’s annual The Big Rethink conference for marketers and PR professionals on the future of consumer marketing. The day was chaired by Economist journalist, Robert Lane Green and speakers were from HSBC, OgilvyOne, Virgin Media and many more. The conference focused on how brands are changing and how the consumer’s expectations and perceptions are shifting.
Here are my three key learnings from the event:
- Experience will keep your consumer interested
Nader Tavassoli, Professor, London Business School kicked off his presentation by stripping things right back to basics to remind us all what ‘to consume’ means: to destroy something through use. More often than not, marketers focus on the product and not on the user. Just consuming a product is not where value lies; it is in the experience of consuming it.
Experience is vital in today’s consumer marketing and it will only get more pronounced; McDonald’s recent advertising campaign is testament to this.
By focusing on the consumer instead of the product they subtly evoke the emotional connection the consumer has with their brand – a feeling of comfort and familiarity on an otherwise disorientating first day at a new job.
McDonald’s understands that the consumer does not want the best hamburger ever made. The consumer wants the recreation of a memory – the first time they ate a MacDonald’s. People want to own experiences and the emotional connection you get with a brand will bring consumers back for more.
- Know your truth and achieving ‘meaningful consumption’
Brands need to understand their truth, explore their roots and find the tenets of their story. Storytelling has always been a no-brainer in PR and marketing but the consumer is finding out more about brands and what they advocate through social media. Chris Clark, Head of Marketing at HSBC warned the room that with knowing your truth creates expectation and these expectations must be met by your brand and employees.
Anne Lise Kjaer talked about truth as a means towards ‘meaningful consumption’. Consumers want to engage with brands that have a notable impact on your sense of wellbeing and quality of life.
According to Anne, only 20 per cent of brands fall into this category. Worryingly, consumers would not care if 70 per cent of brands disappeared, if it meant 30 per cent offered them meaningful consumption.
Kjaer’s Global Mindset Map (www.kjaer-global.com) clearly links trends, values and typologies to produce a profound understanding of people and their lifestyle and highlights challenges opportunities for companies to address.
To achieve ‘meaningful consumption’ you need to bring the customer into your business. The key to marketing success is listening, engaging and understanding your customer.
Jeff Dodds, Executive Director, Brand and Marketing at Virgin Media and Chris Clark (HSBC) stressed the necessity to represent the customer in our businesses, otherwise they will be forgotten and our marketing efforts will fail. Ultimately, it is time for marketers to realize that the power lies with the people rather than just in the boardroom.
Although some businesses will find bringing the customer into their business difficult, it is detrimental not to engage them. Big companies must see things from their customer’s point of view, do not assume one size fits all.
- Experiment: Don’t be afraid to do it!
Google does it all the time, some things work, some things don’t and our perception of Google as a successful business has not been tarnished for it.
Companies must embrace creative thinking in order to succeed in tomorrow’s marketing. Encourage creativity within your business and encourage employees to tell their visions of the story. Let them be your evangelists. Adapt your campaigns to the different personalities of your consumers and encourage them to shape and help make your product or service better.