For several years, consumers’ feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for the future have been compounded by fears for the effects of human behaviour on the environment. This feeling of uncertainty, which has, in fact, become quite normal and is referred to as the ‘’#neveralnormal’’, is reflected in consumers’ lack of trust in established institutions and brands. As we all have seen in the newspapers, familiar brands are experiencing difficulties, with many household names going into administration, and a downturn in Europe’s share of the Top 250 global retailer’s revenues since 2006.
Economic uncertainty, political tension, environmental change and the 4th industrial revolution have been the main forces of dramatic change. The Gilets Jaunes/French Yellow Vests protests in France, the arrival of a populist government in Italy and Brexit in the UK all reflect deep-seated political and economic discontent.
With further political upheaval expected in 2019, consumers’ crisis of trust is deepening, and leading to greater emotional involvement and action.
This brings us to a set of marketing “commandments” to meet the new consumer’s expectations.
COMMANDMENT 1: CONTENT, CONTEXT AND CONTACTS
To retain consumer trust, brands must be mindful of the context for their adverts. If they are placed next to unethical content, they stand the risk of being accused of being linked too or even funding that content, and consumer trust will inevitably be affected.
Content-wise, brands have been accused of condoning “fake” news by running their adverts next to it and inadvertently financing it at the same time. It has been argued that advertisers are unaware of what content their adverts in fact support, but Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, suggests that this is a weak excuse, calling it, in fact, a “moral failure”:
The third element “contacts” shows that the number of times an advert is run also impacts trust. In 2017, Forbes showed that the average consumer is exposed to up to 10,000 brand messages a day.
OMD Latvia conducted an online bespoke quantitative study to illustrate this point at the Mi:t&Links. Conference FALSE THINKING conference in Riga, March the 8th.
63% of 18-75 years old living in Latvia claim seeing the ad too many times reduces Trust in Advertising
COMMANDMENT 2: BE CLEAR AND DELIVER ON YOUR PROMISE
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into effect in May 2018, underlines the importance of consumer trust, giving consumers more control over their data at the same time as offering reassurance that these are in safe hands. In 2018, IBM ran a study, which showed that 73% of people were concerned about their privacy on internet sites and 65% did not trust social media companies to handle personal data responsibly. GDPR could be regarded as a simple compliance issue, but it could also be seen as a catalyst for businesses to implement new business models with consumer trust at their core.
With the advent of AI and fast developing technology, like 5G, transparency has become particularly important owing to the potential misuse of an increasing amount of new data that are intended to provide a more personal approach, as well as delivering the ultimate in modern living standards in our homes. If data is handled badly, consumer trust will inevitably be lost. The downside of GDPR, however, is that data protection is couched in legal terms that laymen find difficult to understand, highlighting a need for simplification.
COMMANDMENT 3: AUTHENTICITY IS THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL COLLABORATION
One example of a lack of authenticity took place in September 2018 when renowned social media influencer Scarlett Dixon was paid to promote Listerine on her Instagram page. Whilst she highlighted that the post was an ad, she was highly criticised for the content being completely staged. After all, who wakes up with perfect make up and hair, balloons next to their bed and Listerine on their bedside table?
Instead of relying on celebrities to bump up their sales, brands are now turning to nano-influencers: everyday consumers who tell small communities of friends about their favourite products, thus creating trusted content for brands. Kate Edwards, the COO of the social marketing technology startup, Heartbeat, explains how it works, “Brands have always known that word-of-mouth marketing works well, but it hasn’t been until now that we’ve had the technology to activate this channel in a scalable, cost-effective way. That’s why brands are moving away from influencers and celebrities, and more toward recognising the voices of everyday consumers.” In addition, CGI avatars are beginning to replace human influencers. Examples include the virtual models, Lil Miquela and Shudu, who engage with their fans just like any human influencer would, maintaining transparency and building trust.
COMMANDMENT 4: ACT AS A GOOD CITIZEN WOULD
Brands should see themselves as individuals with moral values. For instance, in October 2017, Corona came out in support of its native country, Mexico, following a devastating earthquake. It re-branded three million beer cans as “Mexico Extra” and donated the proceeds to reconstruction projects. It also encouraged involvement with relief projects through its website mexicoextra.com.
COMMANDMENT 5: STAND OUT FOR A POINT OF VIEW
As social media gives louder voices to extreme views, brands are asked more and more to standout for a point of view.
Taking inspiration from the Me Too Movement, in January 2019 the shaving brand Gillette launched a new ad campaign which features a nearly 2-minute-long video drawing inspiration from the Me Too movement by tackling issues like sexual harassment, bullying and toxic masculinity. Reactions on social media have been mixed. There are many people praising the video for encouraging all men to do the right thing. However, it also has many people threatening to boycott the company, accusing them of lumping men into one group, painting a bad picture for men all over the world.
Another example of a brand assuming a moral stance was when Nike chose Kaepernick to front their 30th anniversary poster. The well-known footballer had brought attention to police brutality against African-Americans by kneeling down during the national anthem and refusing to “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour”. Nike came out in support of his decision to stand up for his personal beliefs.
As we all know, marketing is moving from “mass to me”. At OMD, we believe that every interaction a consumer has with a brand represents an opportunity to create a valuable relationship, with “empathy”, the backbone of trust, being key.
As planners who design end-to-end consumer experience to create valued relationships between brands and their consumers, we at OMD try to anticipate consumer needs through a deep understanding of our audiences, their untapped needs and desires, exploring ways in which a brand can use communications and media to fulfil them.
OMD predicts that in the future we will increasingly see engineered empathy as a key driver of success. As consumers are feeling more comfortable with AI and robots, they will be expecting emotional interactions from brands through AI. Empathetic services that help deliver human-like interactions in all contexts, by adapting to the customer’s real time emotional state, will be always welcomed by consumers.
But until then…get the principles right: Be credible, transparent, reliable and consumer first seem to be some of the main key drivers of consumers’ trust. And then…be aware of the trust corrode-rs that advertising is in control of and follow, if appropriate, the above suggested commandments.
The luxury industry has started carving its own space in the social sphere, setting its own behaviour, managing consumer expectations and showcasing its personality. It is by understanding the data behind this landscape, and through partnerships like Tubular Labs, that we are unlocking preferences and uncovering emerging behaviours.
GENUINE AND RELEVANT
Adverts and premium content currently deliver the lowest return in engagement compared to the volume uploaded. Mystery is no longer enough, consumers are craving more entry into the exclusive world of luxury to observe the beauty, craft and story of every angle of luxury brands. It is this genuine content – fashion shows, montages and behind the brand access – that is driving 74% of all luxury video engagements.
However, brands also need to harness the power of digital content. There is an opportunity for luxury brands to deliver content solutions dynamically, serving more relevant videos based on data such as age, interest and behaviour.
Looking specifically at the luxury watch category, as expected, 73% of YouTube engagement is driven by those under the age of 34, who are mainly luxury owners in waiting. Perhaps surprising, luxury watch videos are also generating 18% of their engagements from those over 55 years old, which is 14 times the YouTube average.
Nevertheless, how these audiences engage with luxury watch video content is different. Those under 35 years focus on beauty and entertainment influencers, concentrating on how luxury brands make them look. Older audiences, meanwhile, engage with influencers who concentrate on craftsmanship and in-depth luxury product reviews.
AUTHENTICITY AND ORIGINALITY
The new influencer authority is authenticity and originality. As tempting as it is to seed products for visibility, luxury brands need to be selective. The rapid adoption of influencer strategies for categories from FMCG to luxury automobiles has also left consumers more sceptical of the true relationship between brands and influencers. As a result, only 16 luxury lifestyle influencers made The Sermo Digital Influencer Index cut.
Choosing the right influencers is absolutely critical, involving in-depth research identifying a profile of their background, beliefs and audience to ascertain if they truly fit the brand’s vision. For luxury brands it is not about volume, it is about the right contextual fit, originality and innovation which an influencer partnership can generate.
For example, as the official watch partner of FC Barcelona football club, Maurice Lacroix’s ‘Unique Fans Watch’ campaign invited the team’s players to design their own Maurice Lacroix Pontos S Extreme watches. The partnership has resulted in 20 videos, generating more than 9.8 million views and over 404,000 unique engagements or interactions. Additionally, the campaign generated 41% more visits to the partnership site and increased Maurice Lacroix social media fan base by over 11,000 fans.
“Luxury brands are always leading and setting the standard, that’s why people are eager to see what’s next”
Despite the niche nature of luxury, brands still need to produce content for the masses. By utilising popular themes, events and culture, brands can create a universal understanding to build brand desire and convert demand. The balance brands need to strike is between humanising their influencers and still driving views and engagement with topical content, such as unboxing which accounted for 72% of the luxury watch topics viewed in 2017.
Luxury brands are always leading and setting the standard, that’s why people are eager to see what’s next. Just like film studios, luxury brands have anticipated releases and consumer expectations to meet. Whether it’s their collections or showcases the bar for luxury has always been set high and that’s no different for their social channels.
The most successful luxury brands have embraced the opportunity of social video to truly immerse people in their unique stories, building authenticity and equity in this redefined category.
To access a summary of the study, click here (PDF).
Authenticity was key in the launch of Destination Canada’s latest suite of rich content. The ‘Explore Canada’ campaign is focused on bringing to life the amazing sights, wonders and experiences that Canada has to offer.
There are over 6 million European travellers considering Canada as a future holiday destination. Despite being on people’s travel list, there was no urgency to book Canada as their next holiday destination. Our goal was to change Canada from a ‘might visit at some point’ destination to a ‘must see’ and next on the list.
Destination Canada is Canada’s national tourism marketing organisation. They promote Canada’s extraordinary experiences in 11 countries around the world. Their key markets include Germany, UK, Australia and France.
Research shows that consumers are increasingly moving away from traditional media. Instead, they are turning towards more personalised and trusted sources – such as friends, family and key influencers – to research and plan their travels.
Traditional marketing campaigns with sponsored banners or branded social posts are no longer enough to convince consumers to buy a big-ticket item like an international holiday. Our content marketing approach needed to reach and entice consumers at key points along their decision-making journey. We wanted to use more novel, innovative marketing ideas to engage these travellers emotionally.
Based on this, our focus is content like videos, photos and articles. Rather than a traditional branded campaign, the idea was to have viewers come into contact with the content naturally in relevant environments they typically visit for travel planning and purchase.
Over 500 pieces of high-quality content were developed across passion points and locations in Canada. Because authenticity is integral to this strategy, we didn’t include any branding on this content.
For the video content, we are leveraging a high-profile YouTuber from each of our key markets. Each influencer uses their typical filming style to highlight Canada as the perfect vacation setting. Influencers share and promote the content directly with their YouTube followers, allowing the material to seed organically. Many also promote their Canada videos on their Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram accounts.
You can currently view the latest influencer content tailored for the UK and Germany, with France and Australia content coming soon.
We then use data to align consumers with unbranded content that caters to their individual interests, passions and travel purchase behaviours. Once viewers engage with multiple pieces of unbranded content, we then serve them a personalised message from a local tourism partner who can offer them a great deal for the location or experience they’d viewed.
We are in the second exciting year of this campaign. The tremendous success of last year’s efforts included over 50 million content views and over 190K content viewers booked a holiday to Canada, with over $231 in additional tourism revenue generated for a 67:1 ROI.
There is a huge amount of debate in the marketing industry regarding millennials, our value, affect and the way in which we are shaping the future of the industry as we know it. However who better to ask than a millennial themselves? As a 26-year-old working in the marketing industry I decided to take a closer look at why we’re a generation to be taken seriously.
When looking at the importance of the millennial generation to advertisers I could simply say we’re important because we’re shaping the future of the world. However that in itself is a huge statement so to break that down…millennials today account for nearly 50% of the world’s population. This makes us the dominant workforce and the generation holding the majority of the globe’s spending power. A recent study by Accenture found we spend on average $600 billion each year, and therefore based on this staggering figure alone, I’d say at the very least we’re worth advertisers’ consideration! With millennials spanning an age range of 16-34, 1 in 4 of us are now parents, holding not only the spending power and purchasing decisions for ourselves, but for our families. However it’s not just about sheer numbers, although these are impressive and would make a compelling argument by themselves. For me it’s the way in which we behave that makes us such an important and interesting target audience.
As a generation of digital natives we live in a hyper-connected world that provides endless opportunities at our fingertips, fuelling a hunger to discover more. This means that our expectations have permanently changed and are constantly changing: we want more in life, to discover more and go further, and in turn we demand not only more from our lives and ourselves but also from the brands we love. By demanding more we’re challenging brands, pushing them to be more innovative and creative in order to catch our attention and create noise. If advertisers weren’t striving to break the mould would Virgin Holidays have created a campaign using Virtual Reality to sell holidays? If we weren’t a generation pushing brands to be more innovative we could still be booking our holidays on the telephone. Likewise, if Carlsberg wasn’t interested in capturing our imaginations, they would dedicate their entire media budget to TV instead of making a bar (of the booze variety!) made entirely out of chocolate!
Not only are we a generation whose demand is fuelling continuous innovation but we’re the harshest critics, and therefore the best generation for a brand to learn from in order to gain a share of voice and see real business growth. Yet it is not just about our being opinionated that is important to advertisers, but the fact that we share our views on blogs, social media, with our friends, family and colleagues. We can make or break a brand in a few keystrokes, and brands know it. With 67% of consumers using a company’s social media channel for customer service, hundreds of brands including Nike, Starbucks and Walmart have customer service teams dedicated to their social channels, ready to handle negative comments and promote praise.
By challenging brands to be continually dynamic, millennials have subsequently become a force that has changed the way advertisers use media. The way in which brands interact with a 16-year-old on Snapchat vs. how they engage with a 34-year browsing Instagram or through Stylist magazine on a Tuesday commute home is very different. There is therefore no ‘one size fits all’ strategy when looking at the channels through with to engage millennials and this again has led advertisers to view their marketing strategies through a different lens.
Whilst we cannot group millennials into a single channel or platform, I think there are inherent themes that apply to all millennials which advertisers can apply to any media channel. For example, I believe authenticity is incredibly important – and by authenticity I mean approachable authenticity: we want to see and hear from real people who we can relate to, or aspire to be like. This theme comes to life through blogs, vlogging and social media; Zoella’s YouTube channel has over seven million subscribers whilst the Kardashian sisters have a combined Instagram following of 275 million. With 50% of millennials researching products on social media, we can see what a powerful and credible tool it can be. By building their brand through social media and reality TV the Kardashians’ empire is now worth $300 million.
With millennials spending an estimated 22 hours on their phone each week it would seem an easy solution to simply target us through digital channels; however, I believe we can still be reached through traditional channels by being authentic. Notably, Dove’s Beauty Sketches campaign used real, normal women to shine a light on the differences in beauty perceptions. This campaign resonated with millennial women around the world and resulted in becoming the most viral video of all time, with over 135 million views.
Another theme that I believe can transgress all media channels is the evolution of the brand ambassador. I have already mentioned how important it is for millennials to feel like they can connect with real people and I think this is becoming particularly apparent in who advertisers now pick to front campaigns. The most successful supermodels today are no longer just visible on the catwalk and billboards, but let us into their lives. The likes of Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid (millennials themselves) now take us backstage at the Victoria Secret Show and on their Saturday night out with the Taylor Swift squad, opening their world to us via social media. Their influence cannot be ignored and many brands such as H&M and Balmain have chosen to embrace it.
To promote their new partnership and collection with H&M, Balmain chose Kendall, Gigi and Jourdan Dunn to front their campaign which launched exclusively on Instagram. Using their influence with the millennial audience H&M and Balmain’s collaboration went on to be their most successful, with an Instagram reach larger than the UK population and the range selling out online and in-store in a matter of hours. This demonstrates the power of brand ambassadors when attributed to the right brand.
Likewise the role of the brand ambassador can be just as influential when used on traditional media channels, if advertisers use the right person to fit their purpose. For instance, Burberry’s use of Emma Watson, a millennial we have grown up with watching Harry Potter and whose passions for issues such as gender equality we now share, led to a 23% increase in sales for the brand.
I could go on about the themes that I think are important to millennials that can be used on any media channel, but the key point I am trying to address is that millennials are changing the way advertisers address their marketing strategies. It’s not just about our sheer numbers and spending power that makes us an important audience but our behaviour and what advertisers can learn from us. By being a demanding generation and challenging brands to always be more innovative than the previous day, we are pushing them to find new ways to create noise, which means looking at how channels can be used in new ways. You just have to look at Carlsberg’s billboard including a beer tap to see how traditional channels can be using in a unique way to catch our attention. By taking note of millennials’ demands, criticism and behaviour we offer advertisers the opportunity to learn, challenge themselves and in turn become the most innovative, creative and powerful brands in the world.