In 2013 we learned that 232M people lived outside their country of origin, with each successive generation becoming more multicultural.
Millennials are the most diverse generation in history. Only 59% are Caucasian and 27% have an immigrant background (Deloitte 2015). So it’s no surprise they’re causing a huge shift in attitudes to diversity and inclusivity.
Once, the diversity issue was moral, and brand responses were tokenistic. Now, millennials see it as empowering. They define it by how it relates to a mix of unique experiences, identities, ideas and opinions. They expect brands to reflect this ‘omnicultural’ mind-set in their media and marketing.
80% of parents say they like seeing diverse families in marketing. 41% of millennial parents are more likely to buy products from brands that use diverse family types in their advertising.
In the past, the term inclusivity primarily implied acceptance and tolerance of gender, race and ethnicity. Now, the focus in on using collaborative tools to drive business impact. Multicultural consumers see themselves as part of a new mainstream. They have access to an infinite combination of choices and products to suit their lifestyles and tastes.
There is now a higher value placed on teamwork – millennials value a culture of connectivity. They feel empowered when they believe their employer fosters an inclusive nature.
They love to share their experiences and explore the cultures of others. In doing so, they influence mainstream consumers and expand the multicultural market opportunity. Their increased social media and technology adoption has accelerated this.
Multicultural consumers tend to gravitate to brands, products and activities that reinforce their cultural roots but also allow them to explore new identities.
Millennials are demanding that brands, assets and campaigns are more creative, provocative and challenging. Brands, therefore, need to recognise that inclusivity starts in-house. They need to deviate from accepted story lines around identity, for example.
Brands can go further than just reflecting a broad range of identities in their advertising. There are huge opportunities in constructing a narrative around a ‘no normal’ mindset. Brands are increasingly representing disabled, homosexual and gender fluid consumers in their advertising.
A great example is US bank Wells Fargo’s #WhyIWork campaign. Their ad featuring a lesbian couple learning sign language before adopting a young deaf girl garnered 1.6m views on YouTube.
A year later, Channel 4 launched its ‘Superhumans Wanted’ initiative. It encouraged brands to creative innovative advertising featuring disabled people. The winning ad was shown during the first ad break of the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Finally, OMD was proud to broker a partnership between QuidCo and LGBT+ publication Attitude earlier this year. Timed to coincide with London Fashion Week, it provided Attitude’s readers with a new way to get the catwalk look for less.
Most of us realise that the world of marketing is constantly changing. Unless we understand our customers’ shifting desires, our attempts to reach them will inevitably fall flat. Many times these changes are temporary, caused by short-term trends. However, over the last few years a fundamental, long-term shift has arisen in consumer behaviour that has wide-ranging implications.
Due to recessions and economic uncertainty, people are reassessing their priorities and asking themselves what they truly value. As a result, we are moving towards a new economy that values experience over possessions. In recent research: [ctt template=”1″ link=”Tv647″ via=”yes” ]3 in 4 millennial’s chose to spend money on an experience or event, rather than purchasing a desired object @HarrisCorp @OMD_EMEA[/ctt] [ctt template=”1″ link=”jzCVA” via=”yes” ]Consumer spending on recreational & cultural services has risen 85% in Western & Eastern Europe over the last 5 years @Euromonitor @OMD_EMEA[/ctt]
This shift is impacting a multitude of industries and has the power to transform even the most established markets.
In fact, Airbnb’s co-founder, Brian Chesky, has observed:
“No longer do consumers want to show off, on Instagram or Snapchat, the wheels of their car or the clothes they wear. But they want to show off the experiences that they’re having. I think, more and more, we’re living in an experience-based economy”.
Material possessions are no longer enough
As a society, we are spending more money to do things, rather than to have things. We then share these lived experiences via social media, in effect, elevating them to the position of status symbols. Whereas once the designer handbag was a sign of success, now a memory from a faraway land is the marker of a good life. We aspire to turn our leisure time into social capital spent on moments that are unique, fleeting and personal.
Plenty of research has shown that experiences bring more happiness than possessions. In fact, even the moments preceding and following an experience are more positively charged than those surrounding the purchase of a product. Experiments have shown that participants elicit more happiness and excitement when anticipating experiences. Whereas, waiting times for possessions are often fraught with impatience. Further research indicates that people also tend to talk more about experiences than they do products and derive more value from doing so.
This has led renowned psychologist Thomas Gilovich to conclude that “spending money on experiences provides more enduring happiness.”
Using this insight, OMD created an immersive theatre experience to launch HTC VIVE. We partnered with Noma Labs to host a once in a lifetime apocalypse event, HTC Virtually Dead, targeted to Millennials in both London and Paris. Tickets sold out in just over a week after showing the first teaser video in London. To meet demand, we extended the time period and put on more shows. Overall there were 900 shows over three weeks bringing in £300,000 worth of tickets, which is equivalent to a popular West End show running for over two years.
How can classic brands survive?
We need to refocus our strategies away from short-term demand and towards long-term desire. Brand experiences can help us drive this change, with luxury labels leading the way.
According to PWC, the annual sales growth of luxury experiences grew by 14% compared with 11% for luxury goods. Moreover, in 2014 The Boston Consulting Group found that experiences which include travel, gourmet dining and art auctions accounted for 55% of the global luxury spending. By creating enhanced sensory experiences for shoppers, luxury retailers have evolved a simple transaction into something more.
A great example of this is The Bentley Inspirator. The experience starts on an iPad in dealerships. You watch a beautiful video full of lifestyle images, off-piste skiing, yachts sailing through the ocean. Meanwhile, in real-time, facial recognition software is measuring your preferences. By the end of the video, a personalised Bentley configuration is created based on your preferences. A playful piece of technology which creates a magical experience by unlocking new information about the customer.
Is technology killing anticipation?
Technology has allowed us to engage with customers in ways we never thought possible. But, it has also fuelled new expectations, resulting in less patience and a rising demand for frictionless experiences. Amazon has calculated that even a one-second delay in page downloads could cost them $1.6 billion each year in lost revenue.
Modern technologies (e.g. Uber and drone delivery systems) are built on our desire for instant gratification. These technologies cure pain points in our lives. However, science has shown that anticipation can be far more gratifying than the reward itself. Bizarre as it may sound, there is an argument for designing in a little friction into the service process. Designed friction allows experiences to be anticipated, valued and remembered.
Create your experience and people will follow
We have the ability to design amazing experiences, but we need to be mindful about why and how we design them. From our research, we have seen how it is possible to design experiences that create emotional connections, drive memory creation and kindle the desire to share those experiences with others. Our deepest desires as human beings are to learn and grow. Brands have the opportunity to design in these experiences across their consumer touchpoints.
We must embrace this opportunity to move beyond simply creating consumer interactions which are frictionless, invisible and instead craft experiences with enough tension that they are shareable, memorable and teach us something about ourselves that we didn’t know before.
In a country that is evolving rapidly, change is the only constant. The ‘plates’ of the UAE’s consumer landscape are continuously shifting, with new waves of expatriates arriving each day and technology continuing to transform our lives. As a result, the consumer’s psyche, attitude and behaviours are evolving, making business a challenging task. To document and explore this evolution, OMD UAE launched the ‘Future of the UAE’ in December 2015. 2000 face-to-face interviews were conducted to better understand how the UAE population live today and how they expect to live tomorrow. The survey delved into Emiratis and expatriates’ views on happiness, lifestyles, technology, the environment, values, national identity, financial priorities, health, work-life balance, entrepreneurship and purchasing decision influencers.
Balancing between tradition and modernity, the UAE is forging a path towards the future, one that includes the key notion of happiness, national identity, entrepreneurship and sustainability. These are some of the notions OMD UAE explored and found that, despite the occasional bumps in the road, residents are overwhelmingly optimistic – approximately 90% of UAE residents are optimistic about the future and believe their lives will significantly improve in the next two years. Fadi Maktabi, OMD UAE’s Head of Strategy, highlights that the economic downturn of the past few years has done little to dent the ambitions and aspirations of UAE residents. Whilst some do struggle financially, particularly in terms of debt, more than two-thirds of respondents still anticipate they will spend either as much as, or more, than today in the coming years.
One concern that was raised at ‘The Future of the UAE’ launch event was the risk of reverse brain-drain, where expatriates would leave the UAE to either go to another country or back home. While the debate about the dilution of faith, language and cultural values does exist, since the UAE has the largest proportion of foreign-born residents in the world (88%). Seven in ten Emiratis believe that the influx of foreigners has proved beneficial both to the country and themselves. Considering the recent downgrade, forecasted growth for 2016 still stands above 3% and unless things change dramatically they shouldn’t worry. Additionally, over two-thirds of respondents believe people will continue coming to, and finding work, in the UAE over the next five years.
Overall, this particular type of research provides a marker for the changes that have been witnessed and a guide for those to come, looking at both the societal and marketing implications they carry. ‘The Future of the UAE’ is an ongoing conversation and to find out more, visit the OMD UAE blog or follow @OMDMENA on Twitter for updates.